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Morton Schools Project – Social Sciences (ages 4–5)

We suggest that these activities would be most suitable for children aged 4–5, but please feel free to explore all the articles in this series.

The activities are inspired by several photographs of schools and schoolchildren from our historical collections. We’ve included a selection of these photographs here, but you can also view the full gallery. You’re welcome to use any of the photographs from the gallery as inspiration for these activities.

The times suggested beside each activity are intended to be a guideline; you’re welcome to spend as much time on each activity as you like.

A sepia photograph of a class of 23 young children with their teacher. They stand in three rows outside the school building in a gravelly yard. The boys wear wool jackets and trousers with boots. The girls wear light pinafores over long-sleeved tops. Their young teacher wears a wonderful spotty blouse, with a lace neck and a long black skirt.
We don’t know very much about these children at all, except that this school is probably somewhere in Angus. © National Trust for Scotland, Angus Folk Museum

Activity 1

(5–20 minutes)

Children in the past dressed very differently to go to school than children today. Pick one of the children in the photograph, and write down all the differences you can spot. See if you can find three.

A full-length formal black and white photograph of a young boy. He stands by a banister and looks away to the left. He is wearing a white shirt, tartan tie, kilt, sporran and woollen knee-high socks.
This photograph shows John Lorne Campbell at Cargilfield Preparatory School in Edinburgh c1906–c1912. © National Trust for Scotland, Canna House

Activity 2

(20–30 minutes)

Imagine that you’re the boy in this photograph. Try to draw a picture of your day at school. You can use clues from the photograph, information from books and the internet, or even your own imagination.

A black and white photograph of around 30 young schoolchildren, arranged in rows in front of a stone building with ivy growing up its walls. The windows in the background have lacy curtains. The children are dressed quite formally, with the boys in jackets or kilts, and the girls in white pinafores. Their teacher stands at the back in an austere black dress with a white lace bow.
This photograph shows a class of children outside the Glamis School in 1900. © National Trust for Scotland, Angus Folk Museum

Activity 3

(30–60 minutes)

Have a look again at the gallery of photographs, and pick one you’d like to think about a bit more. Imagine that you’re going on a school trip, but instead of visiting another place, you’re visiting another time! For one whole school day, you’ll be travelling into your chosen photograph. Who would you talk to? What would you learn about? What games would you play and who would you play them with? What would you eat at lunchtime? Think about these questions, and then choose one of the three activities below:

  • Write a story or a poem about your day in a school in the past.
  • Draw a comic strip, showing your day in a series of pictures.
  • Design a postcard to send to a friend or family member from your day in the past. You can draw a picture of your day, and write a few sentences telling them about all the things you saw and did.

We’d love to see what you come up with! Feel free to send them to us at @NTSCollections on Twitter or @nationaltrustforscotland on Instagram.