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.   

You can also download two PPT presentations - one containing all the images in this resource, and one featuring a simple interactive game of matching the font to the correct biscuit tin.  

Curriculum Links

  • KS2 & 3 Design & Technology: Design and Make
  • KS2 & 3 Design & Technology: Food and Nutrition
  • KS3 PSHE: Health and Wellbeing | Living in the Wider World

Learning Objectives

  • Knowledge of different examples of modern and vintage product packaging designs
  • Understanding of how packaging design can be influenced by popular culture
  • Skills of identifying different elements of product and packaging design, such as font and 'look and feel'This page suggests ways in which old and new images can be used with different subjects, as prompts for discussion and extension activities.

Discussion and Activity Ideas


KS2 & 3 Design and Technology

  • What do you think makes a good design? How important is the design of something like a biscuit tin in increasing sales of the product?
  • What age of customer do you think M&S is appealing to with the designs for its 2011 or Custard Cream tins? Why might these designs appeal to particular age groups, and are they the same for both tins? 
  • Choose your favourite biscuit and design a tin for it in the style of a particular decade. 
  • Different fonts are fashionable at different times - find ones that were fashionable in the 1920s and the 1960s.
  • Design a 'scary' font and a 'happy' font.
  • What health and safety issues would you have think about when producing tins for food?
  • One M&S tin is in the shape of a book and it's quite hard to see where the lid is. A customer even made a model tram out of a very unusually shaped M&S biscuit tin! (see Supporting Links). Design a container for sweets in the shape a toy. You can choose what type of toy, but you must show the type and number of sweets you are designing it for. 
  • Make a collection in your class of unusual tins or containers.

KS2 & 3 Design and Technology: Food and Nutrition

  • Choose a favourite biscuit and find out what ingredients are used to make them. What nutritional value do they have? 
  • Bake some biscuits yourself and ask your class to 'rate' them nutritionally. Think about what ingredients you could use to improve their nutrition rating. 

KS2 & 3 PHSE

  • How has the food we eat changed over the last 50 years?
  • What kinds of food are good for our health and which ones are not?
  • Make a list of all the things you love eating and then compare those with your answers to the question above. Do they match?
  • If we only ate food that could be grown or produced in the UK, what would our diet be like?
  • What are some of the issues involved in buying food that is not produced in this country?
  • Biscuits are made for different reasons, sometimes even for special occasions. What different occasions might biscuits be made for? For example, the Yorkshire tradition of funeral cakes.


Nutritional - providing the necessary materials (in food) to support healthy life.