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Morton Schools Project – Social Sciences (ages 8–11)

We suggest that these activities would be most suitable for pupils aged 8–11, 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 see a full gallery. You’re welcome to use any of the photographs from the gallery as inspiration for these activities.

The photographs included in this gallery show children from schools from all over Scotland – from Angus to Edinburgh, from Glasgow to the Hebrides – and even some from America. Now we want you to think about your local area.

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 black and white photograph of a group of people sitting on some rocks on a beach. A tin mug is balanced on the rock in the foreground. A small dog sits on the sand and looks up at a young boy, who is sitting on the knee of a young woman.
Pupils on the Isle of Canna enjoy a picnic at the beach with their teacher. © National Trust for Scotland, Canna House

Activity 1

(5–15 minutes)

Make some notes about the school you normally attend. If you were writing a history of your own life, or a history of people you know, how would your school fit into it? Try to answer at least three of the following questions:

  • How long have you been attending the school?
  • Did any members of your family attend the same school? If so, when?
  • Have you moved house to attend your school?
  • How do you usually travel to school? How does this affect your daily life?
A black and white photograph of three young schoolboys standing at the edge of a road. Hills and a single cottage stand in the background. The boys all wear black jumpers with dark shorts. The boy in the middle is holding a slate with a chalk drawing on it.
Three boys on a road in Lochboisdale (Loch Baghasdail), c1929–35. © National Trust for Scotland, Canna House

Activity 2

(10–20 minutes)

Using books or the internet, try and find out a bit more about the school you usually attend. Try to answer the following questions:

  • How has the school building changed over the years? Has your school always been in the same building? What can you learn about the history of the school from the building itself? Can you find any old photographs of your school?
  • How have the pupils of the school changed? Did your school used to be an all-boys or all-girls school that has changed to a mixed school, or is it maybe the other way around? Does your school have a uniform? Has it always had one?
  • How many people usually go to your school? Is this more or less than in the past?
A group of around 40 schoolchildren (girls and boys aged between 5 and 10) stand on some steps outside a stone building. Their teacher stands on the top step. Deep snow lies at the base of the steps and the children all wear boots and coats.
The children of Miss Sanders’ School in Glenshaw, Pennsylania (c1907–14). © National Trust for Scotland, Canna House

Activity 3

(30–60+ minutes)

Using your research from the activities above, please choose one of the following tasks.

  1. Make a poster displaying what you’ve learnt about how the school you usually attend has changed over the years. You can create this using a computer or by freehand drawing, and you can include illustrations, photographs, text and diagrams.
  2. Use the information from your research to write a history of the school you usually attend. How has it changed, and what has stayed the same?
  3. Interview someone you know about their schooldays. This can be an older sibling, an older friend, a parent or guardian, or even a grandparent – but please don’t leave your house to complete your interview. If they’re in the house with you, you can ask them the questions face-to-face. If they’re in another household, you can speak to them using a telephone or a video call, or you could send them your questions in an email or through an instant messaging service – perhaps you can even help them to use some new technology! Try to think of between five and ten questions; you might be inspired to ask more during the interview. Spend at least 15 minutes thinking of questions, and then at least another 15 minutes on your interview. You can film or record your interview, or you can make notes as you go.

Once you’re done, present what you have learnt. You can do this in one of the following ways or choose your own method:

  • Write up the interview as a script, transcribing what was said by you and the interviewee.
  • Use what you’ve learnt to create a diary or timetable of one of your interviewee’s schooldays. You could also create a diary or schedule of your own day to compare the two.
  • Draw a picture illustrating the similarities and differences between one aspect of your interviewee’s schooldays and your own. For example, you could draw the different clothes you wore to school, a map of your different routes to school, or the different games you played.
  • Use the information from your interview to write a summary comparing your school experience with that of your interviewee. Focus on the similarities and differences.

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.