Victorians (Old Curriculum)

My life is hard (Old Curriculum)

Study Victoria - her life, family, portraits and homes. Major inventions lead into the daily life of Victoria’s subjects. Workhouses and child labour are studied through fiction. Use census data, maps, buildings and the advent of railways to develop local history.

Each Topic is written for a particular Key Stage. If you use a Topic for a different Key Stage, you will need to consider how to adapt the outcomes, content, delivery methods, resources and differentiation, as well as the relevant National Curriculum objectives.

This Topic was written for the old National Curriculum of England.  We have left it on the website so that teachers unconstrained by the new National Curriculum can continue to access this material.  Teachers in England would have to adapt this Topic to the new curriculum or use some of the new Topics available on the website. 

Supporting documents for topic
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English Plan 6: Narrative - genres

Recap on narrative genres and their features. Read extracts from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Wilde’s The Happy Prince and children’s version of Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles. Read for deduction and inference; role-play; write found poetry and mystery story.

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01: Meeting Dickens

You are invited to witness a murder. Children are introduced to the work of Charles Dickens and the issues of child poverty he raises. Includes the opportunity to read aloud a dramatic Dickensian scene at a Public Reading.

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01a: Struggle to survive

Through extracts from Oliver Twist, children explore themes of child poverty in Victorian England and compare to handling of similar themes in works of modern authors, Berlie Doherty and Jacqueline Wilson.

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02: Setting the scene

Take a tour through Dickens’ London. Children explore the grimy, crime-ridden streets of Victorian London and discover how important setting is when creating a story and the impact it has on how characters behave.

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02a: Good, bad and ugly

Explore the world of Dickens’ imagination and the incredible characters he creates. Children explore how Dickens uses creative vocabulary to create grotesque villains and angelic heroines and have a go at creating some characters of their own.

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03: If they could speak

What a character says is as important as what he does. How does Dickens use dialogue to create his amazing characters? After identifying how to set out and punctuate dialogue correctly, children begin to draft their own Dickensian murder scenes.

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03a: Final instalment

Disaster! Dickens has been in a train crash and the children need to take his place as a writer for the Victorian newspaper ‘The Morning Chronicle’. They put all they have learnt into practice and write the final instalment of a Dickensian novel.

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04: Poverty and poor laws

Through detailed reading children explore the lives of poor people in Victorian England, the impact of the Poor Law and the introduction of the workhouse.

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04a: Workhouse woes

Using a range of sources children explore what happened inside workhouses, including making gruel! What jobs did children do? What did they wear? Where did they sleep? Would being in a workhouse be a pleasant experience?

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05: A world of work

Life was hard for a Victorian child. Children explore the horrible jobs children had to do in Victorian England through contemporary literature, court transcripts and newspaper reports of the day.

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05a: Signing your life away

Through drama children explore the lives of child apprentices in Victorian England. They recreate a scene from Oliver Twist where Oliver encounters a magistrate and pleads not to be apprenticed to a chimney sweep.

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06: The campaigners

It wasn’t all doom and gloom. Using a range of computer based reference sources children research the lives of Victorian reformers such as Lord Shaftesbury and the impact they had on the lives of the poor.

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06a: Is life any better?

Using a class timeline children compare the lives of Victorian children with those of today and imagine how children’s lives might change in the future.

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English Plan 7: Narrative - street child

Read Street Child by Berlie Doherty and explore characters, plot and themes using a range of dramatic and written techniques. Empathise with the characters; analyse the use of language; read for deduction and inference. Develop complex sentence writing skills.

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07: The history of Barnardo’s

In the novel Street Child, the main character meets Dr. Barnardo. Children use computer sources to find out about this famous reformer, what he achieved and his impact on the lives of the poor.

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07a: Barnardo’s today

Through exploration of the Barnardo’s website, children consider how the charity has developed since Victorian times and how attitudes towards children have changed.

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08: Children’s charities

Children compare the methods used by Barnardo in the 1870s to raise awareness about child poverty and the new medias used by charities today. Children draft ideas for their own promotional materials advertising a fair trade event.

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08a: Raising awareness

What grabs our attention? Children create posters, using computing tools, advertising their fair trade event. They consider design choices and effective use of text, images, etc. Children evaluate their own work and aim to make improvements.

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English Plan 8: Narrative - dramatic conventions

Read pieces from three Victorian children’s novels and compare them with screen adaptations. Analyse and emulate Lewis Carroll’s humorous techniques. Invent characters and dialogue. Analyse film makers’ techniques. Write storyboards and film scripts set out correctly.

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09: Lionel Bart’s Oliver

Take your seats for the premiere of Lionel Bart’s Oliver! Children travel back to 1968 and attend a film showing, in the company of HRH Princess Margaret. They consider how Dickens’ story was made musical and write a critic’s review for a Music Magazine.

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10: Where is love?

Time to pull on those heartstrings. Children appraise sad songs from musicals sung by children in extreme hardship. They consider how musical elements are used to create appropriate mood and effect and attempt sad songwriting themselves to reflect a scene from Street Child.

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11: Food glorious food

Is it worth the waiting for, if we live til 84?! Children explore dramatic opening number to Oliver, ‘Food Glorious Food’! They consider contrasts in the visual picture, musical score and movements before working on a whole class dance to recreate the number.

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12: Consider yourself

Join in, get moving and consider yourself one of us! Children explore the big dance number from the film, apply what they’ve seen and develop synchronised group dances of market workers – bringing the Victorian market to life.