Lesson 1: Let’s See Where the Mills were Built

This lesson explores the population increase in Belfast, which was a result of the growth of the linen industry. Pupils have an opportunity to work in groups to locate the mills and to explore, in a Talking and Listening activity, possible reasons why people moved from the countryside to the towns and how they brought their Ulster-Scots language with them.

Main Areas of Curricular Focus

Lesson Plan

 

Learning Intentions

Learning Intentions

Pupils will:

  • identify the locations of some mills in Ulster;
  • explore possible reasons why people moved from the country to the city; and
  • understand how people brought their Ulster-Scots language and culture with them.
  • life expectancy
  • Linenopolis
  • industrialisation
  • rural
  • urban

Starter

Starter

Display the first screen of Resource 3.1: Map of Ulster (IWB) showing the following rivers and towns marked but not named: rivers – Callan, Bann, Foyle and Lagan; towns – Belfast, Lisburn, Portadown, Lurgan, Keady, Armagh, Londonderry and Coleraine.

Ask pupils to work in small groups to identify as many of the towns and rivers as they can. (They may use Google maps for this activity.) After 5–10 minutes take feedback and then display screen two of Resource 3.1 revealing the answers. Pupils should begin to see that the linen towns were close to rivers.

Now using ‘Post-its’, ask the pupils to suggest reasons why mills were built near rivers. Collect answers and then discuss.

  • life expectancy
  • Linenopolis
  • industrialisation
  • rural
  • urban

Resources

Resource 3.1: Map of Ulster (IWB)

Main Lesson

Main Lesson

By the middle of the nineteenth century, linen was the main commercial product in Ulster with industrialisation being most rapid in Belfast. As mills were built, towns such as Portadown and Belfast began to expand and people started to move there. Belfast became known as ‘Linenopolis’ and huge linen mills were built to satisfy the demand for linen. This caused a flow of workers to Belfast and the city’s population expanded from 20,000 in 1803 to 300,000 a century later. It is estimated that 32 linen mills were built in Belfast alone, some of them on the Crumlin Road but the majority in the Shankill and Falls areas.

Show the pupils Resource 3.2: Life Expectancy in Nineteenth Century Ireland (IWB) and discuss:

  • what the term ‘life expectancy’ means;
  • the differences between life expectancies;
  • reasons why people wanted to move from the countryside to the towns during the nineteenth century despite the fact that life expectancy in an urban environment was so poor; and
  • how the culture in the town was different from that of the countryside.

In small groups, pretend that you are this family and, using Resource 3.3: Reasons for Moving to the Towns (Cards) come up with four reasons why you should leave your village. Pupils should justify their reasons. Use the TS&PC Thinking Card: Consider all factors to inform your discussion.

You may decide which other TS&PC Thinking Cards you wish your pupils to focus on.

Note to the teacher

Ordnance Survey Memoirs compiled in the 1830s, reported that many Ulster-Scots people moved from the countryside to North Belfast and ‘their dialect, accent and customs are strictly Scottish’. In Carnmoney in the late 1800s it was recorded that the language of the people was ‘strictly Ulster-Scots’ and their ‘idioms and saws’ (sayings) are ‘strictly Scottish’.

Plenary

Plenary

Having listened to all of the reasons given, ask the pupils to take a vote on the top four cards which the class have selected.

  • life expectancy
  • Linenopolis
  • industrialisation
  • rural
  • urban

Assessment Opportunity

Assessment Opportunity

If you wish to assess pupils’ responses to this lesson, see the suggestion below.

Pupils peer assess the process of their decision making after using Resource 3.3: Reasons for Moving to the Towns (Cards). They should collectively decide what they could do better next time using the Fist-to-Five technique. You may also provide pupils with an opportunity for peer assessment using the TS&PC Thinking Card: Did your group succeed?

Other Activities

Additional Pupil Activities

1. Design a Timeline

Using Resource 3.4: Teacher Information Card and Resource 3.5: Timeline: Increase in the Population of Belfast (Template) ask pupils to produce a timeline which shows the increase in the population of Belfast over a century. Pupils may also carry out their own research and add their information to the timeline.

2. Exploring Belfast Speech

When Ulster-Scots speaking mill workers moved to Belfast they brought their own culture and language with them. However, as time passed and as spoken language became more standardised, the use of Ulster-Scots diminished. This demise accelerated in the second half of the twentieth century as teachers required pupils to speak and write using standard English. Consequently many Ulster-Scots words were lost.

Some Ulster-Scots words have remained and are still used today including:

  • boak – vomit
  • coul – cold
  • danner – a leisurely walk
  • eejit – idiot
  • houl on – hold on
  • keep yer neb out – mind your own business
  • mingin – dirty or smelly
  • poke – ice-cream cone
  • tay – tea
  • wee – small

Discuss with pupils the meaning of these Ulster-Scots words and phrases. Then, pupils working in pairs, should make up their own dialogue using them in an improvised activity.

  • life expectancy
  • Linenopolis
  • industrialisation
  • rural
  • urban

Resources

Resource 3.4: Teacher Information Card

Resource 3.5: Timeline: Increase in the Population of Belfast (Template)

Links to Curriculum

Cross-Curricular Skills

Cross-Curricular Skills: Communication

Children should be given opportunities to engage with and demonstrate the skill of communication and to transfer their knowledge about communication concepts and skills to real-life meaningful contexts across the curriculum. (Language and Literacy)

Talking and Listening
  • Participate in group discussion using Resource 3.3: Reasons for Moving to the Towns – Cards;
  • Share, respond to and evaluate points of view and use evidence to justify opinions as to why people moved to the city; and
  • Recognise features of Ulster-Scots spoken language.
Reading
  • Represent their understanding of text using a timeline; and
  • Use digital sources to locate information about the growth of the linen industry in Belfast.

Cross-Curricular Skills: Using Mathematics

Children should be given opportunities to develop the skills of applying mathematical concepts, processes and understanding appropriately in a variety of concepts including real life situations. (Mathematics and Numeracy)

Handling Data
  • Present data using a timeline.

TS&PC

Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities

  • Working With Others (Resource 3.3: Reasons for Moving to the Towns – Cards)

WAU: Geography

The World Around Us: Geography

Place
  • Places then and now and how our identity, way of life and culture has been shaped by influences from the local and wider world with specific reference to the Ulster-Scots community.
Movement and Energy
  • Causes that affect the movement of people from the countryside to the town; and
  • Positive and negative consequences of movement and its impact on people.
Change Over Time
  • Ways in which change occurs over both short and long periods of time in the context of the linen industry with specific reference to the Ulster-Scots community.

Active Learning and Teaching Methods

Active Learning and Teaching Methods for Key Stage 2

These active teaching and learning approaches encourage active participation from pupils, making the learning a more relevant and enjoyable experience.

When peer assessing the process of their decision making after using Resource 3.3: Reasons for Moving to the Towns (Cards), pupils should collectively decide what they could do better next time using the Fist-to-Five technique.

In partnership with  Ulster Scots Agency