When studying any topic or era within History, I believe it is essential and of such value to bring the children’s learning to life through creative drama and role play; allowing them the chance to experience even a small snapshot of what it was like to live years ago. This term, Year 6 are studying the Victorian era and focused their first few lessons on the Victorian classroom. Little did they know, that in one particular lesson, they were going to return from their break time into a 19th-century classroom.
First things first: check hygiene and cleanliness! No child in the Victorian era could enter the classroom unless they showed perfectly clean hands and were dressed presentably with tidy hair. Of course, there was no exception with Year 6, who went through a thorough inspection before entering their classroom!
Throughout their lesson, my class had to work hard to follow the strict Victorian school rules now put upon them: no talking, no fidgeting, no raising their hands unless asked, no slouching, no answering back and NO writing with left hands! The latter rule, which was only relevant to one child, was taken on with such enthusiasm and they worked hard to try and write with their right hand: all in the role of their Victorian character! They did however comment, following the lesson, that they were so shocked at what left-handed children had to do many years ago and was excited to have given the rule a go!
Of course, no Victorian lesson would be complete without the presence of the dunce’s cap and the dreaded cane…Year 6 were extremely enthusiastic to receive these punishments when not following the rules and could not hide their smiles and excitement on their faces, even when trying to look serious! (I do promise that no children were hurt in the running of this lesson!)
I must admit, even with a degree in Drama and many years of stage acting under my belt, I myself found it quite tricky to keep a straight face at times! However, Year 6 rose to the challenge of becoming Victorian school children fantastically and had so much fun getting involved in a whole class role-play activity.
They have asked me for another Victorian lesson…of which they may get, but perhaps when they least expect it!
Year 6 hard at work on their handwriting practice; the dunce’s hat and cane on display to remind them of those Victorian school rules!
Anna Johnson, Year 6 teacher