Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Activity Ideas for KS1-KS3

Timeline (KS1/2)

Print out copies of the images of the exteriors of the Exeter stores from 1912, 1929, 1951 and 1981 (see Resources for PDF to download).  Working in groups, children can be asked to put the images into chronological order. For KS1 use fewer images and ask them to put them in order from oldest to newest. 

M&S Exeter, 5 Queen Street, 1912
M&S Exeter 1912

M&S Exeter, 177 Fore Street, 1929
M&S Exeter 1929

M&S Exeter, 247 High Street, 1951
M&S Exeter 1951

Storefront of M&S Exeter, 211-217 High Street, 1981
M&S Exeter 1981

Discussion Ideas


  • How did you know which one was the oldest?
  • How did you know which one was the newest?
  • Which one is a photograph of how the store looks now?


  • Which is the oldest? How do you know?
  • Which is the most recent/newest? How do you know?
  • What clues did you use to help you decide how old the photographs were?
  • What has changed about the way the store fronts looked over time?
  • Are there any similarities between the way the store looked in 1912 and in 1981?

KS2/3 - what has happened to the old M&S stores?

As M&S grew as a company, they needed bigger stores to keep up with customer demand. M&S has had stores all over central Exeter. Can you find out what is in those buildings today? Create a presentation to share your findings as a group. You could also mark the stores on a map of Exeter to show how it has moved.

  • 5 Queen Street
  • 259 High Street
  • 177-8 Fore Street
  • 247 High Street

Try looking online for maps and photographs of those areas in the past (Ordnance Survey Maps were produced regularly from the late Victorian period for example and may be available from your Local Studies Library or Archive). See also Supporting Links in 'Resources'.

You will need to take a close look at the images showing what the buildings used to look like. This might help you pinpoint which building on the street used to be M&S. 

  • Are the original buildings still standing? Or has something new been built in their place?
  • Is it still a business or is it now a home?
  • What are the other buildings around it being used for?
  • Can you find out any more about the bombing which destroyed the Fore Street store in 1942?

Further questions for KS3

  • What can the answers to the questions above tell you about the areas the stores were in and how they have changed over time?
  • What can you find out about the bombing of the Fore Street store in 1942?
  • Try and find copies of maps of Exeter from earlier time periods (see Supporting Links) and compare the types of buildings and layout  of the areas when the shops were originally there. How have the areas changed?

School Log Books (KS1-3)

Read about the history of the Exeter stores. Schools in the past often had log books, much like the M&S stores (this is where we have found out a lot of our information about their history). 

You could start a school log book to record interesting or funny events. You could also create your own Newsletter (just as the stores did with St Michael News)  which collected stories about your school and any other news. 

You could keep your logbook with your older school logbooks (either in school or at your local archive). This would be interesting for anyone looking into the history of your school in the future. 

Creative Writing – Diaries (KS2/3)

Read the Exeter Store History. There are a number of personal stories from staff and customers. Choose one of the following and write a diary entry for the day from someone else’s point of view:

  • A bomb destroying the Fore Street store on 4 May 1942 (write as a member of staff or Fire Warden/ARP warden)
  • The January 1946 story about a man returning a sixpence to the store because he’d stolen some marbles in 1911 and felt guilty (write as the man or the shop assistant he spoke to)
  • The story about the late Easter Egg order being personally delivered in 1999 (write as the member of staff or the person who received the egg)
  • Another story of your own choosing from the store history

You can use the research material you’ve gathered as well as the store history and images to help you with this task. 


Ordnance Survey – national mapping survey of Britain, produces regular maps of different areas and has done since the 18th Century.

Fire Warden and ARP Warden – positions held during World War Two designed to help in the event of a bombing, or respond to a fire resulting from a bomb

Air Raid Precaution (ARP) Warden - someone who helped with organising people and buildings before, during and after air raids to try and lessen the impact of the bombings

Archive – the home of collections of historical records.