Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

Resource created by M&S Company Archive.

This resource is part of a 'Food' theme intended to provide a broad picture of display design, using selected items from the M&S Company Archive's large collection of clothing and food packaging images. The overall aim of the Food related resources is to show changes in products throughout the history of the Company, and how this links to social history and world events.

The discussion and activity ideas below suggest ways in which the material in this resource can be used with different subjects, as prompts for classroom or homework activities.

Curriculum Links

  • KS2-4 Art & Design
  • KS2 Citizenship the functions and uses of money and the importance and practice of budgeting and managing risk
  • KS2/3 History
  • KS3 PHSE - a basic understanding of enterprise

Learning Objectives

Children will learn:

  • to do independent research
  • about life in the past
  • about window displays in the past
  • to appreciate the range of foods available today compared to the 1930s

Discussion and Activity Ideas


KS2/3 History

  • What was life like in Britain in the 1930s?
  • Look at the images (see Resources) and notice the way goods are displayed. What are the similarities and differences to today's shop displays?
  • Look carefully at the picture with the shop assistants and spot five things that will be different to a similar store today. 
  • Look at the sign in the picture that says Three Pounds For 5d . Use the currency converter (see Supporting Links) to find out what that means and what the equivalent is today.

KS2/3 Food Technology

  • Pears shown in the photos would have been grown in Britain and were only available to buy at a particular season of the year. When would that have been and why?
  • Which of these fruits are easily grown in Britain - pineapples, oranges, goosberries, kiwi fruits, apples, strawberries, plums, raspberries, blackcurrants, bananas, cherries, mangoes.
  • Oranges are for sale in one of the images. In the 1930s which countries would oranges have come from? How would they have been transported to Britain?
  • What countries might oranges come from today and how are they transported?
  • Choose a fruit and investigate where it comes from. Find out how many air miles it has to travel to get to a shop near you.

KS2/3 Enterprise

  • How many supermarket 'own-brands' can you think of?
  • In small groups come up with your top ten tips about making a successful window display. Think of where you might need to go to research this. You don't have to limit yourself to food displays. Share what you learn with the other groups and then make a class 'window' display by bringing in empty food cartons, packaging or whatever else is practical.  

KS2/3 Art & Design

  • The display of elaborately stacked tins looks quite modern. Does this make you think of any famous artworks?
  • Which shops in your town are well known for their striking window displays? What makes them so special? Which ones do you like and why?
  • Design your own window display - bring in some packaging and create a display, either individually or as a whole class/school project. You could make a window display of products from different times with old fashioned tins, boxes, tools, equipment, knitting patterns, books. Ask at home - your older relatives might have things you can use. The whole school could be involved in creating historic window displays, showing how they have changed over the years.

KS4 Art & Design

  • Would you like a career in window display? Sometimes it's called Visual Merchandising, or you might see jobs for Window Assistants, Window Dressers or Display Designers. Search for jobs like this and see what they entail.