This September my class of very special children will be learning about The Victorians. As I’ve said before my class are a wonderful group of individuals. Some are incredibly poorly and suffer permanent pain, others are physically challenged and others have behaviour challenges. Every child is full of personality and I adore each and every one of them. They attain at between P5-P7/8 and are aged between 10-14 years. It is my role to make their learning as enjoyable, meaningful and relevant to them as is possible. There is not one single reader or writer in my class for this coming academic year. Therefore the plans that my TAs and I construct between us need to be very creative.
When planning for this class we use what we refer to as ‘Creative Curriculum’. This is not creative in the sense of having visiting artists and speakers in, it simply means the planning is creative. Once upon a time this type of planning might have been called topic work, but what’s in a name. Victorians are our topic and to compound the learning every subject area will have a link to the Victorians. Our history lessons will incorporate some art, DT, ICT, PE, Maths, English, science, RE, PSHE and Enterprise. We will retain separate English and maths lessons to ensure progress but everything else will be taught through history. Here’s how we do it.
At the start of each lesson I will play ‘Matchstalk Cats and Dogs’ by Brian and Michael. Obviously this is not a Victorian song but when played on the Interactive Whiteboard it becomes visually powerful. Black and white images of Victorian children, people, factories, smokey chimneys and terraced houses sweep across the board giving the children an instant taste of Victorian life. Brilliant for an introduction and a re cap in further lessons.
Our first job will be to examine Victorian clothes. One of my wonderful TAs has amassed a wonderful array of Victorian objects and clothes over her years in school. I’m grateful for her contributions to this project. Each child will dress as a Victorian child for our lessons. This will be good fun for the children and they’ll thoroughly enjoy dressing up. While dressed as Victorians we will take their pictures for later use. Unfortunately I haven’t sourced an authentic Bellows camera for this purpose.
Next up is Queen Victoria herself. We will make our Queen Victoria from a doll. The children will use lace, paints, wool, tea staining and anything they desire to cobble together their own tribute to Queen Victoria. Of course it will bear no resemblance to her at all, but we’ll know! I’ll also add a picture of the old Queen herself just for any visiting observers.
In further lessons we will study washing day Victorian style. We have a Victorian washboard courtesy of my TA. The children will have the washboard, water a bar of soap and some dolly pegs. Imagine the hilarity as the classroom is flooded with water by very excited children. The dolly pegs will obviously be made in to dolls using whatever scraps of materials and craft things we can find. We can’t miss that opportunity to create Victorian toys. We will also play with Victorian pans and kettles and compare the weight and capacity to modern day pans and kettles.
In cooking we will make afternoon tea which was popularised by the Victorians. Ours will be home made sandwiches and home made cakes. Imagine the maths we can get in to that! There will be counting, one to one correspondence, addition, subtraction, division, fractions, weighing, measuring and money. The children will be supervised heavily to ensure that there are no extra added ingredients. We will then use ICT to make an advert to sell our afternoon teas to the staff who are very generous and will buy our home made goodies.
After selling our goods we have now earned some money and can have an outing. Sensory children learn best from being out in the big wide world. As luck would have it we have The North Euston Hotel right on our doorstep. This hotel was built during the Victorian era for overnight guests doing the rail journey from London Euston to Scotland via Fleetwood ferry. How fabulous! My class of special learners, my TAs and myself will all take afternoon tea at the North Euston! It will be marvellous.
Further activities planned include making a Victorian garden. Plant collecting and garden making was made popular during the 1800s. This is of course where our science fits in. My children will enjoy planting and cultivating roses and hydrangea and any other shrubs we can find in the school grounds. Our classroom will be transformed in to a colourful garden. There will be soil and water and mess everywhere but it will be great fun and the children will learn a great deal.
We have many other exciting things planned, too numerous for a blog. One idea is to learn about the Victorian invention of trains by taking a train journey. So far we’ve been unable to work out the logistics of getting 7 wheelchairs on and off trains. We also fancy visiting a working factory. There is one reasonably close by but as it is Victorian it doesn’t have disabled access.
Lastly, the children’s Christmas presents for their parents will be beautiful. The pictures we took at the start of the topic will now come in to their own. The children will make replica Victorian photograph frames. In DT they will measure, plan, design and make our own version of the frames. They won’t look in the least bit Victorian but the children will have done their best, had fun and they will be dressed as Victorians in the photo’s. Christmas is a magical time for all children but this year we will be doing it in style. As everyone knows Prince Albert introduced the Christmas tree to Britain in 1841. Original Christmas trees were decorated with sweets and cakes. Guess what we’ll be doing in the run up to Christmas? We will be making sweets and cakes in the style of the Victorians. Ready made presents for the parents. Lots of lovely sensory learning to be had.
So now you have the gist of our Victorian creative curriculum. Every subject area will be covered in a fun and meaningful way. Best of all, the children will earn their own money from selling their own home made sandwiches. They will then take afternoon tea at a very fancy hotel in Fleetwood. How marvellous! A very special curriculum for my very special learners.
If you have any more ideas please let me know. Thank you 🙂