Victorians (Old Curriculum)

Victorian family life (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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01: A peek in the dolls’ house

To start this theme children investigate the Victorian world in miniature. They find out that Dolls Houses are more than toys - they are excellent historical artefacts. They find out more, before thinking about building their own.

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01a: Touring the 1900 house

'Welcome to Linley Sambourne House!' Children take a virtual tour of a wealthy Victorian home and discover what each room was used for. Using this inspiration, children create ideas boards in ‘Changing Rooms’ style for their own Victorian room.

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02: Period details

In this session children find out more about how wealthy Victorians would have wanted their house decorated, before creating artistic impressions. Then it’s into groups and action as they begin work on their room for the class house. Computer resources for wallpaper.

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02a: Building in miniature

Making miniatures is the focus of this session. Children use images of real Victorian Houses and Miniature Dolls' House versions to find inspiration for their own furniture to complement their room in the class house.

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English Plan 3: Poetry - finding a voice

Research and experiment with different poetic formats. Read a range of poems on Victorian themes; express and justify preferences. Use pictures for poetic inspiration. Express own hopes, fears and desires by writing poems on child labour-Victorian and modern.

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03: Victorian artefacts

What is it? What does it do? Why don’t we use them today? These are all key questions as children get their hands on some real Victorian objects. They find out a little bit of the history behind them before making miniature replicas.

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03a: Below stairs

In this session it’s ‘speak when spoken to’ for the children, as they experience the life of a servant through role-play. They read the real life account of Jessie Stephens before using what they have experienced to write their own.

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04: A look in the larder

With 6 courses often being served, getting the food for each meal was an important job. Children discover that some shops and foods for sale are very familiar, before creating shopping lists and calculating the totals using old money.

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04a: Cooking with Mrs Beeton

The table is set just as Mrs Beeton suggested and now it’s time for afternoon tea. Children create some Victorian favourites and learn how to set the table with "A place for everything and everything in its place!"

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05: Washday

It’s Victorian washday in the classroom and children find out how exhausting it was - the hard way! They look at the equipment used, the process and compare their methods to the way we wash clothes today.

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05a: Victorian dress code

It was Mark Twain that said "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society" and so fashion became an important part of Victorian life for the wealthy. Children research, and then create dressed figures for the house.

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English Plan 4: Poetry - Victorian poetic style

Children read limericks and imitate the form and read, discuss, analyse and imitate nonsense poems by Lear and Carroll. They write for younger children. Children discuss Victorian moral poetry for children and parodies by Carroll, Lear and Belloc, and attempt own moral story in verse.

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06: Time for school

So, you have to go to school? Blame the Victorians! In 1870, the Education Act was passed to make education compulsory for all children. Consider the importance of this reform. Write an ‘Education Act’ and debate its worth to the members of the Parliament.

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06a: Poor attendance

Schooling was compulsory, but attendance was poor. Explore original school logbooks and discover reasons for the high rate of absentees. You’d better have a good excuse for not attending school when you respond to an official letter from the School Council.

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07: The Victorian schoolroom

Classes of 50, maybe more. Uncomfortable wooden desks and scratchy old slates. Poor ventilation, lighting and heating. The life of a Victorian pupil was far from easy. View images of typical conditions and recreate the layout of the schoolroom on an aerial map.

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07a: Behaviour and punishments

Teachers in Victorian times were rarely trained and relied on fear and gruesome punishments to maintain control in overcrowded schoolrooms. Find out about some of the expectations of children at this time and the punishments for breaking the school rules.

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08: Lessons and learning

Use personal reflections and photographic images of Victorian classrooms to look at the lessons taught each day. Did boys and girls learn the same lessons? What style of teaching was preferred? How did children learn about the world before TV and computers?

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08a: A schoolroom experience

Time to recreate the past. All evidence of a modern day classroom is to be banished as the Victorian schoolroom comes alive. Dress in period costume and experience a day as a Victorian pupil. Prepare for inspection and don’t speak unless spoken to.

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09: School logbooks

History is recorded in many forms. Victorian school logbooks provide a ‘window’ to the conditions experienced by teachers and students of the era. Read extracts and respond by writing a poem to express feelings about the issues. Enjoy a poetry recital.

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09a: Your school, my school

Compare the experiences of a Victorian pupil with those of pupils in your own school. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of both systems. Prepare a storyboard and create a slideshow to compare and contrast the school experience - past and present.

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10: Are these toys Victorian?

It’s time for play! Compare the toys, games and sports played by children in Victorian times with those of today. Look closely at toys being 'sold in an auction' - are they authentic? Create labels for toys in museum.

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English Plan 5: Non-fiction - instructions and wisdom

Explore oral instructions; compare verbal and pictorial instructions; investigate common errors in content, style and approach. Write an instructional article for a good party. Match proverb parts and know meanings and explore their dramatic interpretations.

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11: Optical toys

Optical toys were very popular in Victorian times. Discover how 'persistence of vision' means that the brain merges together images that the eye has seen to create 'moving' pictures. Make a simple zoetrope.

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11a: Cam mechanisms

Another popular toy in Victorian times was the 'automata' or moving toys, which include a cam mechanism. Study how cam mechanisms work. Children then take up the Cam Challenge to produce their own toy.

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12: Punch and Judy

Discover how seaside holidays became very popular in Victorian times because it became much easier to reach the coast by train. Investigate one of the most popular entertainments at the seaside - the Punch and Judy Show.

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12a: Putting on a puppet show

Children have fun creating their own Punch and Judy puppets and a playscript to put on their own show. Reflect on the progress and success of the construction of their puppets. Finish the theme by watching each other's shows.