2022 Christmas Lectures for Children

In December we held UEA's annual Christmas lectures for children. Dr Kelly Edmunds took us on an animal adventure from mammoths to donkeys and Prof Tom Smith and Dr Hilary Emmett showed us what a 19th Century Christmas looked like in America. The 2022 event was packed with important messages and festive fun.

Christmas lecture poster 2022

Sat 17 Dec 2022

Mammoths, Whales and American Tales

An Advent Animal Adventure: Discovering life on earth

What’s your favourite animal? We all have our favourite animal and a reason why we like it so much. Maybe it’s because of the sound it makes, where it lives or something that it can do. Or maybe it’s because of a picture you’ve seen or a story you’ve read. The chances are that your favourite animal is the favourite animal for lots of other people too. But there are lots of animals that don’t get to be on any of the favourite lists. If only more people knew about them….

In this lecture adventure, with the help of some props made by some of the animals themselves, Dr Kelly Edmunds will take you through the doors of an advent calendar to explore some of the lesser-known species on Earth. Maybe you’ll have a new favourite animal just in time for Christmas!

A Child’s Christmas in 19th Century America

Imagine that you'd never seen a Christmas tree. Imagine that the person who brought your presents on Christmas Eve looked very different to Father Christmas. Imagine that your favourite Christmas food tasted nothing like Christmas pudding and mince pies. This lecture will transport you to just such a strange world! You'll learn what Christmas was like for children in nineteenth century America, a time and place when the festive season could seem very different to today. Witness the unveiling of the first Christmas tree in America! Marvel at a weird and wonderful array of Christmas visitors! Delight at a variety of tantalising festive treats! Play parlour games! And maybe, just maybe, you'll get to meet a very special visitor...

You can look back our previous Christmas lectures on our UEA Public Events YouTube channel. Click the button below to take a look!

View our previous Christmas lectures

UEA Christmas Lecture Activities

Use the drop down menus below to explore our previous Christmas lectures in new ways! Click on the images to view and download the activity packs, and watch the videos to help you find out more about each topic before answering the questions in the pack.

We'd love for you to share what you discover with us! Ask an adult to tag @UEAEvents in photos of your work on X (formerly known as Twitter) using #UEAChristmasLectures.

You don’t have to be a superhero to save the world: activism that works - By Dr Ben Little

Kids today don’t have it easy. Climate change, coronavirus, parents that won’t let you watch TV endlessly, and don’t get us started on that homework nonsense you get from schools. So how would you like to make things a bit better? In this lecture, Dr Ben Little will explain that being a superhero is not the only way to make a difference, instead with cunning tactics and crazy examples – with at least one involving poo – he’ll teach you how to band together to stop bad guys doing terrible things to the planet, the people around you and maybe even to your schools. We won’t help with your parents though – they’re right: too much YouTube turns your brain to jelly.


The long journey: how stuff becomes rubbish - By Sara Skarp

Books, clothes, food wrappers, furniture, shoes… every day, we use a mountain of stuff! But where does our stuff come from? What happens to it when we don’t want it anymore? Does all stuff get recycled? How could our stuff end up in a turtle’s nose? And what can we do about it? These are some questions that we will look at in this trash-tastic lecture on how our things go from produced, to cherished belonging, to waste. Find out who produces the vast range of stuff that we use in our daily lives, and what happens when we don’t want it anymore. Join Sara Skarp as she takes you on a journey into the long, wondrous and hidden life of rubbish.


Putting on a pageant

Putting on a Pageant - By Prof Matt Woodcock

This activity sheet has been put together by Prof Matt Woodcock from UEA’s School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing, to go with his lecture 'Putting on a Pageant' from December 2018.

Watch Matt's lecture in the video below to find out more about Queen Elizabeth I's visit to Norwich in 1578, before working through the activity sheet to plan your own right royal knees up! When you're ready, click on the image to the right to view and download the activity pack.


The pink pigeon's peril

The Pink Pigeon's Peril - By Camilla Ryan

This activity sheet has been put together by scientist Camilla Ryan from UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences and the Earlham Institute, to go with her lecture 'The Pink Pigeon’s Peril' from December 2019.

You can take a look at Camilla's lecture in the video below before you try your hand at these activities! When you're ready, click on the image to the left to view and download the activity worksheets and find out more about this incredible bird.


Victoria's Dustbin

Victoria's Dustbin - By Prof Tom Licence

This activity sheet has been put together by Professor Tom Licence from UEA’s School of History, to go with his lecture 'Victoria’s Dustbin' from December 2016.

Take a look at the video of Tom's lecture below to learn about some Victorian Christmas traditions that are still thriving today, and how items dug up from their rubbish dumps have helped historians find out more about daily life in the mid-1800s. Once you're done, click on the image on the right to head to the activity pack and continue your investigation!


Mud, glorious mud

Mud, Glorious Mud! - By Prof Brian Reid

This activity sheet has been put together by soil scientist Professor Brian Reid, to go with his lecture 'Mud, Glorious Mud!' from December 2018.

You can watch Brian's lecture in the video below before downloading this activity pack, to help prepare you for exploring just how important the earth beneath our feet truly is! Are you ready to become a soil scientist? Click on the image to the left to find out.