Learning about the Victorian period is a fascinating look into the past for schoolchildren. The Victorian period lasted from 1837 to 1901, the reign of Queen Victoria, and was a key period in British history. Teaching children about what it would be like to live in the Victorian period is a great way to get them interested in history.
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Giving out a crossword relating to the Victorian period is a good way to test the children's memory of what you have taught them and to ensure that they understand everything. A crossword basically serves as a test, but it is in a familiar puzzle form, and as such should be enjoyed by the children. The aim of a crossword is to decipher the clues and work out the correct letters to go into the blocks. See Resources for a sample Victorian crossword.
Victorian Writing Materials
Teach the children about the different things Victorian children used to learn to write on. Try to find an old-style Victorian sand tray for them to try. A sand tray is a tray with a shallow layer of sand in the bottom, and children write with their fingers and shake the tray to erase. Show the children a slate, and let them draw a picture on it if you wish. If you are teaching older children, introduce them to dip pens and ink, and get them to copy some sentences down to get used to how Victorians wrote.
Give the children a list of products that includes meat, vegetables, dairy, clothing, jewellery and medicine. Ask them where they would go to buy these products. Teach them about how in Victorian times, right through to the 1960s, there were no supermarkets, and certainly no Targets or K-Marts, and people would have to go to several different shops to do all of their shopping. Print out some Victorian style shop signs, from the Resources, and put them up around the class. Split the children into groups and give them a shopping list to complete.
Being a Child in the Victorian Era
Teach the children about what it would be like to be a child in the Victorian times. Explain that they may have had to work in the mines, a factory or on a farm, until 1880, when it became compulsory for children under 12 to go to school. Teach the children about Victorian schools, punishment with the cane, and the dunce cap. Children like the idea of the dunce cap, so if you can, make or buy a makeshift one for a demonstration. Explain how embarrassing it would have been in Victorian times to be made to wear it. Ask the children to fill out the "Children at Work" worksheet, available in Resources.
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