A Victorian Classroom Experience

Your school can also book the Museum Curator for a Victorian classroom experience. Your students will have the opportunity to use real slates and pencils, ink pens and have a maths lesson using Victorian money. They will also experience the teaching methods and subject matter of the day, hear about Victorian schoolroom discipline and interact with all the artefacts. There will also be Victorian toys for the children to play with at break time. To enhance their experience, the Museum Curator can provide school pinafores for the girls to wear over their own clothes and waistcoats for the boys. If children would like to add further to their costumes, they might like to follow the suggestions below:

Costume suggestions:
Girls
(pinafore will be provided)
Black tights or black rugby/football socks. Black/brown ankle boots or shoes. A cotton dress (silky party frocks are not suitable) A petticoat A small shawl (No mop caps, only dairy maids and some maids wore them)

Boys (waist coats will be provided)
Cut the collar off an old shirt leaving the collar band still in place. A slightly larger shirt than the child’s actual size helps with the ‘unkempt’ look, wash and leave un-ironed. An old pair of trousers, held up with a leather belt or braces with cut off bottoms to expose a little leg. Black or dark brown sloppy socks. Black boots or shoes. Old style caps. A small, narrow woollen scarf, or a large man’s handkerchief rolled and tied at the neck.

NB: Charity shops are always a good source of clothes. Your school could run an old clothes donation day for the children and possibly start your own Victorian collection.

A rough guide to the Victorian school day
Your students will line up outside the classroom or school and will be inspected by the Museum Curator. A classroom monitor (pre-chosen by the school) will hand out a Victorian penny to each child. They will march into the classroom where the register will be taken and the rules of a Victorian classroom are explained. There will be a quick rendition of the Lord’s Prayer (optional) Two new monitors will hand out slates, slate pencils and rags. Students will then copy from the blackboard and practise their writing. The Museum Curator will show the children a Victorian coin folder and give a brief maths lesson. The children will look at their own coin, make a note of the date and then a monitor will collect them. The children will then do a couple of Victorian maths problems on their slates. Monitors collect the slates, pens and rags. They will hand out ink pens, copy books and blotting paper. An explanation of how to use these will be given, along with how to write correctly. The children will practice their writing in their copy books. The lesson ends with a second quick prayer. An explanation of Victorian discipline will be given and the children will be able to try the ‘finger stocks’, back board and dunces’ hat. They will also be able to examine some of the schoolroom artefacts. At break time, the children will have access to Victorian playground toys. If a longer session is booked, the children will be able to make some Victorian craft items, have time to investigate the Governess’ teaching box and learn more about Victorian education.

Victorian Classroom:
What your school will need to do in preparation One hour is required to set everything up and another hour to dismantle. Ideally, the designated classroom will need to be cleared of any modern posters and artwork as far as possible, so that the Victorian school information boards and artefacts can be displayed. Tables need to be arranged into rows facing the front with a small table and chair for the curator. Four children should be appointed as the class monitors. A member of the school staff should be present at all times.

The Victorian classroom experience prices start from £300 per half day, and from £600 for a full day. Schools outside of London will incur some travel costs.

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The Museum Curator at her desk

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George having a lesson with the Museum Curator

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The Museum Curator at her desk waiting to ring the bell

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The Victorian school information board and artefacts

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Close up of School artefacts

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Close up of the Victorian teaching box (items and samples for nature, history etc) and to the bottom of the picture ‘finger stocks’ a device for punishment for children with fidgety fingers

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]Close up on an abacus, a Victorian calculator

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Schoolroom artefacts, Dunce’s hat, slates, horn books, Victorian money

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George writing with pen and ink in his copy book

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An overall view of the Victorian school information board and artefacts

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Close up of the Victorian school information board and artefacts

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Close up of the Victorian school information board and artefacts