Drama exemplar: Queen Victoria and the trains

This lesson was designed to show change in action, from the early days of rail to its time of maximum comfort. This story is taken from the work of John Fines.

Children as trains
Teacher June Wright's Year 1 class had been looking at transport, most recently the coming of train travel. So I began the lesson with a story about getting the train ready for Queen Victoria's first ride.

The children became the train, taking on the roles of smoke-stack, boiler, tender, cab with driver and fireman, and carriages. The long train of children chugged around the hall chaotically. Next time I might divide the class into three groups and have three separate trains. However, children grasped the idea of a steam train. When the train had tooted and come to a halt, I told them that Queen Victoria was coming, but was very frightened and determined not to ride in a train today.

The drama
June the teacher was Queen Victoria. The children entered instantly into the drama. I mediated where necessary. With great difficulty the children persuaded the Queen on board and she took her ride in the train, frightened witless.

Preparing for the next scene
Then we stopped and came together again. I told the children how, once Queen Victoria had got used to trains, she loved them. She had her own royal train where she could sleep and eat en route.

Scene 2: the royal train
The train re-formed, this time with a dining carriage. Queen Victoria was to travel from Buckingham Palace to Balmoral. She travelled in comfort and we served her a splendid meal on board. When she arrived at Balmoral we became the crowd, waving flags, blowing trumpets and cheering at her arrival.

After a break, the children went back to the classroom and drew some quite splendid pictures.

by John Fines, edited by Jacqui Dean

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