How much fun was it to be a child in Victorian England?

Learning objectives

  • To reflect upon the variation of experience in the 19th Century.
  • To experience aspects of Victorian child life.
  • To work together to answer questions based upon their own experiences of the evidence.
  • To question the validity of an activity on historical grounds.


Possible teaching objectives

  • Begin the session with a class discussion using the following questions as prompts. We know that life was hard for many adults but was this the case for all adults? What was it like for children? How similar were their lives to your own?
  • Show the pupils a series of images taken of their peers playing various games. What are they doing in these? Which of them are new if any?
  • Show a video clip taken from the BFI Film as Evidence "Britain in 1900" of children at the turn of the century playing games. How similar are the games on the film to the games played now? Does this mean it was ‘fun' to be a child in Victorian Britain? The aim is not to answer the lead question for the lesson at this stage but rather to raise it as a key point that they are to reflect upon during the next task.
  • The pupils are divided into groups of 5 or 6 and taken out to the playground. Each group records their findings on a data capture sheet (listed in the resources column). There are 5 games in total from a marbles type game through to cricket. If you wish then the marbles game can be sub divided into two games.
  • The pupils have five minutes per game on a carousel basis and two minutes to write up their findings. They are asked to rate the ‘fun' of each game and explain their reasons for their rating. Some will attempt to write little so it is important to encourage those so inclined to write in more.


Can't see the video? Download it here


Learning outcomes

  • Through group discussion come to conclusions on the level of fun for each game.
  • To discuss their findings and comment upon the issues relating to this type of evidence - this is a link to the living museum central question.
  • To produce a piece of discursive writing that reflects their understanding.
  • Peer and self assess their work and suggest improvements.



  • Video of children playing from the BFI film "Britain in 1900".
  • Britain in 1900 images of their peers playing games.
  • Data capture sheets
    Resource 1 (attached below)
  • Instructions for games.
  • Cricket set.
  • Diablo.
  • Ball and curb.
  • Marbles.
  • Bean bags.
  • Playground chalk.

Attached files:

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