Tom Crean

Tom Crean is one of the most under-celebrated heroes in Irish history. He led a fascinating life, and I absolutely love introducing him to kids in the classroom.

You can download the free, editable planning to go with this post here, and keep reading to see how I go about teaching this unit to fifth or sixth class.


  1. Stimulus and Discussion
  2. Timeline Activity
  3. Drama Integration
  4. Integration & Additional Resources

You could start this topic with a picture of Tom Crean as a stimulus. Does anyone know who he is? It’s unlikely that the kids will know much about him, so I wouldn’t bother with a KWL Chart – simply explain that he is famous for exploring Antarctica, and for attempting to be one of the first people to reach the South Pole (I’m generally all for discovery learning, but sometimes a simple explanation can get kids interested, and prevent them being frustrated by ridiculous questions like ‘What do you think his job was?’

This is a fantastic video which is both funny and informative, and is brilliant for getting the kids engaged with the topic, and making them eager to learn more.

After watching this, you could get the kids to do a timeline activity – give each group a set of pictures and flashcards, and get them to match them up. Then they can create their own timelines using a template like this, and display them in the classroom.

If you read Michael Scott’s amazing biography (for adults) on Tom Crean, you’ll find loads of hilarious and exhilarating stories of things that happened to him along the way. I’ve made these drama flashcards from those stories, and you can use them to let the kids reenact some of the major and mad events of his life (joining the army at 15, being turned back and completed the Solo Walk’, finding Captain Scott, Albert Medal, lifeboats).

Integration & Additional Resources

  • Reading: ‘Tom Crean: The Ice Man’ book (for kids)
  • Computers: Kahoot Quiz
  • Crossword
  • Summary of Tom Crean’s life (PDF)