Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

Resource created by Colne Valley Museum

 This resource centres on everyday domestic life in the 19th century, through the lens of a weavers cottage.  It can be used on its own, or in conjunction with the related resource ‘Domestic Woollen Industry and Weaving in the Colne Valley', which covers a pre-industrial revolution cottage weaving industry in depth.


Curriculum Links

  • KS2 History: A study of an aspect or theme in British history that extends pupils’ chronological knowledge beyond 1066 | changes in an aspect of social history
  • KS3 History: the development of Church, state and society in Medieval Britain 1066-1509 | society, economy and culture: especially the wool trade


Discussion Ideas

  • Compare and contrast your lifestyle with that of the weaving family’s.  Which lifestyle:

            - produces the most waste?

            - depends on other people or services?

            - has the most impact on the environment? How?

            - is the most comfortable? Why?

            - is the hardest work?

            - has more defined gender roles?

            - involves the community in everyday life.

  • Hotseat activity – The teacher takes it in turns to be a different member of the household and pupils formulate and ask questions to find out more about their lives.  This activity could be used to introduce the concepts of open and closed questions.
  • What would you miss if you didn’t have electricity?  How would your life be different?  Think about what things you wouldn’t be able to have, but also what activities you couldn’t do, and what you might do instead.


Activity Ideas

  • Look in your cupboards and fridge at home and use the food labels to make a list of 5 – 10 foods that come from outside of the United Kingdom.  


  • As a class, create a visual map to show all the places in the world that we now rely on for our food.


  •  Research the seasonality of food crops such as grains, fruits and vegetables in your location and make a visual calendar or infographic showing what people in the 19th Century would have been able to grow and eat throughout the year. 


  •  Carbolic soap was used for all kinds of cleaning in the 19th and early 20th century.  See the Carbolic Soap Company for some historic information.  Note: Carbolic soap has a very distinctive and unique smell and is perfect for a sensory exploration activity.


  •  Set up a class science experiment to test carbolic soap against more modern soaps to see which are the most effective.  You will need to grate the soap into the warm water for this activity.


  • Create a class sound scape based on wash day.  This could be recorded and used as part of a class exhibition or performance.  Or pupils could record the sounds separately and use them in a cross-curricular music/ IT project to produce their own digital soundtrack.  Pupils could use props to create the sounds, for example:

·         Swishing a bowl of water for washing

·         Knocking wooden blocks together for the weaving loom

·         Grating a hard block of soap

·         Blowing through a straw into a bowl of water for boiling water

  • Research an original Victorian recipe and convert the imperial measurements to metric.  See Supporting Links for useful websites.


  • Recycle old clothes to create a class rag rug or use old T-shirts to create a hula-hoop rug.  See Supporting Links for useful websites.


  • Using images from this resource, replace old domestic appliances, with modern ones.  For example:

        · A pot on the fire is replaced by a kettle.

        · Washtubs, washboard and mangle are replaced by a washing machine.

        · Candles are replaced by electric lighting     

        ·Discuss all the ways in which modern appliances make our lives easier (but also,  perhaps, busier!)

        (This activity can also be done the other way round).

  • What Am I?  Download the activity cards and pupils need to match the descriptions with the objects.  This activity can also be done with real objects.



  •  Using the contents of the classroom bin, divide the rubbish into piles.

        · What materials would the Pearson family not recognise?

        · What would have been fed to the family pig?

        · What would have been recycled?

        · What would have been thrown out?