top of page

  Lesson 4 

Learning Objectives: To use historical sources to understand the lives of Victorian children

Knowledge, skills and understanding covered in the lesson

  • Know about the ideas, beliefs, attitudes and experiences of children in the Victorian period

  • Know about the social, cultural, religious and ethnic diversity of the Deptford area during the Victorian era

  • Be able to select and record information relevant to a historical topic  


Lesson overviewChildren will use the source material to develop a fictional character based on the evidence found.


Starter: Read section of 1934 reportLizzie’s story’. A fictional account based on historical evidence found in annual report, available here.

Pupils to work in pairs – make a list of questions they would like to ask Lizzie.  


Main Activity

Materials needed: Worksheets with images of the boy or girl to use for a characterisation mind map.


Explain to pupils they are going to create a character of a Victorian Ragged child, which the Deptford Ragged School did for the 1925 annual report. Model developing a character based on previous evidence. Develop an appropriate name, likes and dislikes and infer what their personality might be like because of that i.e. Pippin trotter who does not like going to school because he plays tricks on the teacher. However, he enjoys getting a free meal because he is very poor and lives in a one-bedroom house with his five sisters and brothers.


Use the following questions to create a Ragged School character mind map

  1. What is your character’s name?

  2. Describe their appearance

  3. Describe their personality

  4. Describe their family and friends

  5. What is their life like?

  6. What might be going on in their life?


Use the archive documents (document scans) to research

  1. Why do they go to the Deptford Ragged School?

  2. What activities do they do to at the school?

  3. How has the Deptford Ragged School helped them and their family?

  4. What is the best thing for them about the Deptford Ragged School?


Further questions

  • What is your character saying?

  • What are they thinking?


Whole class feedback - children to share their ideas and children to ‘magpie’ good ideas. Discuss what is appropriate and what is not regarding a Victorians child’s life i.e. clothes, toys, technology.



Show children a characterisation, which is not appropriate; a child wearing trainers who has a modern watch. Why is this not appropriate? Pupils to explain using their prior knowledge of the Victorians.


Extension Activities

  • Pupils to write a diary as their character, a day in the life of…

  • Pupils to hot-seat as their character

  • Pupils to draw an illustration of their character

bottom of page