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Key Stage 2 Activities

Ages 7 – 11

The Historic Dockyard provides the perfect setting to support your Key Stage Two pupils’ learning in a variety of curriculum areas. Children are sure to be inspired by our inspiring, authentic settings, providing a real-life context for their classroom learning.

The dockyard was operational for 400 years, over which time it shaped the development of the Medway Towns and employed many local people, making it the ideal location for local history studies. However, as a centre of technical innovation and cutting-edge design of its day, the site is also ideal for the study of Science, Technology and Engineering.

For a whole day of taught activities, choose one of our Special Packages, combining three of our hour-long taught sessions, specially designed to support the new Key Stage Two curriculum. Alternatively, mix and match sessions from different packages to create your ideal combination. If you wish to have fewer than three taught activities, all sessions are also available to book individually.

Read on for the full range of  KS2 activities …

A Sailor’s life in the age of sail

Experience what life was like for sailors in the Georgian Navy with this session on board our sloop HMS GANNET. Gain an understanding of sailors’ language and custom, daily routines and the punishments given out to those who misbehaved.

Curriculum links: History

A square meal

Discover the diets of 18th Century sailors and how this affected their health and hygiene. Take a peek into the doctor’s medicine box and meet some of the creepy crawlies that would be kept aboard ship. Students even get the chance to have a taste of the Hard Tack biscuit, as well as a few other foods the sailors would eat.

Curriculum links: History, Geography, Science: Animals including Humans

Ship Building Challenge

Full Speed Ahead!

Stimulated by the National Maritime Museum model collection, pupils work in groups to build a ship’s hull and fit it with a motor. Facing the challenge of the tow tank wind and wave machine, groups compete against each other in trials, evaluating their designs and developing technical knowledge of how a ship’s design impacts on its performance.

Curriculum links: Design & Technology, Science (Forces, Working scientifically), History (Local history), Mathematics: (Measurement, Geometry)

rope making and knot-tying

Learn about the rope making process in the Ropery, the longest brick building in Europe and make your own piece of rope on our specially designed model machine. Use your rope to tie some of the knots used on sailing ships. Each child will also receive an individual rope sample to take away with them.

Curriculum links: Design & Technology, History (Local history)

Object Handling Identification

What’s in the bag?

Your class will use their investigative powers to compare and classify materials ‘in the bag’, discover and give reasons for their uses on ships. The session ends at our bespoke ship-model testing tank where pupils work in groups to build a boat from polymer.

Curriculum links: Properties of Materials, Forces, Working Scientifically), History (Local History, Historical Enquiry).

grace darling

shipwrecks and rescues

Pupils will experience the highlights of the largest collection of RNLI Historic lifeboats in the country and learn about the inspirational story of Victorian heroine Grace Darling in the atmospheric lifeboat station. Inspired by Grace’s story, pupils will construct an electrical circuit to make their own lighthouse.

Curriculum links: Science (Light, Electricity, Circuits, Working Scientifically), Design & Technology, English (Spoken Language)

rocekt Launching

Ready, Aim, Fire!

Taking their inspiration from the Sea Cat missiles on board HMS CAVALIER, The Historic Dockyard’s own Destroyer, your pupils will work in teams to create rockets and fire them from our specially designed air pressure launcher, aiming to hit a target. Which team will sink the battleship?

Curriculum links: Science (Forces, Working Scientifically), Maths (Geometry)

Working in the Ropery

Spinning a Yarn

Tread the ¼ mile ropewalk with one of our Ropery characters, listening to their fascinating story. Find out what life was like in a Victorian factory and how the Factory Acts changed working conditions. Hand-picked apprentices will make a piece of rope on our scale model rope making machine.

Curriculum links: History, English (Spoken Language)

Air Raid Experience

Take Cover!

Lead your pupils to the safety of our genuine Second World War Air Raid Shelter. Experience the sights, smells and sounds of an Air Raid in one of the Admiralty’s ‘most luxurious’ shelters of the time. Read a wartime child’s personal account of their experiences of air raids and shelter life.

Curriculum links: English (Spoken Language, Reading (Comprehension), History, Music, Science (Sound)

Bringing literacy to Life

Zig Zag, Zig, Zag

Pupils gain first-hand experience of life on board a Destroyer and on experiencing a walk-through of HM Submarine OCELOT; pupils also build an understanding of life beneath the waves aboard the enemy’s submarines. Sure to be a poetry lesson they will never forget, this session really brings literacy to life.

Curriculum links: English (Spoken Language), Reading (Comprehension), History

Step Aboard

hms cavalier

Explore life above and below deck aboard the Royal Navy’s last operational Second World War Destroyer. Learning about its voyages and the conditions on board for the sailors, pupils will gain an understanding of the challenges facing those who manned this magnificent protector of the Atlantic Convoys.

Curriculum links: History

Step Aboard

hm submarine ocelot

Explore life aboard the last submarine built at Chatham for the Royal Navy in 1962. Learn about life under the sea and experience the conditions the ratings lived in. From the torpedo launching bay to the Operation Control room, experience the sights and sounds of life on board during the Cold War.

Curriculum links: History

Step Aboard

hms gannet

Built in Sheerness, HMS GANNET is a Victorian gun boat that patrolled the limits of the British Empire; The tour includes visiting the Captain’s Cabin, Engine bay and Ward Room and challenging activities such as knot tying and balancing in a real hammock.

Curriculum links: History

Key Stage 2 & 3


For nearly 400 years, The Dockyard shaped the physical and human fortunes of the Medway Towns. A local centre of innovation and technology, at the height of its operation, Chatham Dockyard was responsible for the education and employment of more than 17,000 local people and covered an area of over 400 acres. The expansion and later closure of the dockyard shaped the local area as it is today.

A local history study of The Dockyard gives pupils in Kent and Medway a vital insight into their region’s industrial past and the key to developing their wider understanding of both their local area and Chatham Dockyard’s contribution to Britain’s past, present and future. With more than four centuries of history to explore at The Dockyard, the site is a rich resource for a depth study of a variety of themes over time, such as ‘Working conditions’ ‘Industry’ or ‘Transport’.

We can support you in delivering a local history study on The Dockyard and we can provide the following:

  • Support and tailored information to help you structure and plan your study.
  • Bespoke itineraries for a visit to our site, to enable you to tailor your visit to the key areas of history on which you wish to focus.
  • Specially-designed guided tours, developed to fit your brief.
  • Outreach sessions or assemblies at your school.

Overnight Stays

Crash Out on CAVALIER

Take part in a unique overnight stay experience on board the Royal Navy’s last operational Second World War Destroyer, HMS CAVALIER. Sleeping in real ships bunks, young explorers will get first hand experience of what life was like on board. Included within the experience is an evening programme of fun naval-themed activities, led by our friendly team, providing a fascinating insight into the challenges of life at sea. Overnight stays include breakfast in The Mess Deck.

For more information regarding our overnight stays please download our information pack below.

“The workshop in the Ropery was fascinating and really engaged the children – I never expected that part to be so interesting. Children used phrases like… ‘Fantastic,’ ‘Best day ever,’ ‘This place is lovely isn’t it’ to describe their day.”


“Our visit to the Dockyards on Thursday was a success again. Please say a big thank you to all members of staff involved in catering for us. The students enjoyed the three projects, so we will include them again in our programme next year.”


Get in touch

Please use the form below to tell us as much as you can about the visit you’re planning and a member of our learning team will contact you to discuss your plans in more detail.