Lesson 3: How the Mill Owners and their Workers Lived

This lesson explores where the workers and the Ulster-Scots mill owners lived and gives pupils, through Talking and Listening activities, the opportunity to explore differing homes and lifestyles. Pupils have an opportunity to write a narrative from the point of view of a mill owner’s son or daughter and a mill worker’s child who moves from the country to the town.

Main Areas of Curricular Focus

Lesson Plan

 

Learning Intentions

Learning Intentions

Pupils will:

  • understand how the homes and lifestyles of some Ulster-Scots mill owners differed from their workers;
  • become aware of the changes that have occurred in houses over the last 100 years; and
  • become aware of how some Ulster-Scots words came from the countryside to the town and are still used today.
  • lifestyle
  • two up two down
  • scullery
  • Glenmachan House
  • extensive grounds

Starter

Starter

Display Resource 3.12: Houses (IWB) which shows pictures of terraced houses in Belfast, and a floor plan, mill workers' houses in Sion Mills and a floor plan and a mill owner's house, Glenmachen House in Belfast belonging to the Ewart family. To find out more about the Herdman family from Sion Mills see Resource 3.9: Teacher Information Card.

In discussion groups, ask pupils to decide who would have lived in each of these houses. Take feedback.

  • lifestyle
  • two up two down
  • scullery
  • Glenmachan House
  • extensive grounds

Resources

Resource 3.9: Teacher Information Card

Resource 3.12: Houses (IWB)

Main Lesson

Main Lesson

Ask pupils to consider the homes and lifestyles of a typical:

  • mill owner;
  • mill worker in the country; and
  • mill worker in Belfast.

Point out the contrasts of the three homes; for example the extensive grounds rather than streets. Which would be more attractive for play? Mention that a family in one of the tiny houses might have had as many children, or more, as the owner in his big house. You may wish to use the following website to inform your discussion:

You may wish to show the video clip of George Hindes, who was born in Belfast in 1933, recalling a mill worker’s home.

Ask pupils to consider how different life would have been for the families in the three houses. Where would they have preferred to live? Think about homes today. How have they improved? Expect – 'indoor bathrooms/toilets; own bedrooms for children; running water; electricity; internet' etc.

Pupil Activity

Using ‘Post-its’, ask the pupils to list the pros and cons of the homes and living conditions. Pupils will use the TS&PC Thinking Card: Consider all factors when making their decisions.

  1. Divide the pupils into groups and distribute Resource 3.13: Houses (Description Cards); and
  2. Ask the groups to read the descriptions on the cards and list the pros and cons of each home and living conditions.

 

  • lifestyle
  • two up two down
  • scullery
  • Glenmachan House
  • extensive grounds

Resources

Resource 3.13: Houses (Description Cards)

TS&PC Thinking Card: Consider all factors

Plenary

Plenary

Each group should report their findings to the class. Pupils will be encouraged to think about places around the world where living conditions are poor. Introduce the terms ‘slum’ and ‘shanty town’.

  • lifestyle
  • two up two down
  • scullery
  • Glenmachan House
  • extensive grounds

Assessment Opportunity

Assessment Opportunity

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

Pupils will reflect on what they have learnt about houses and their impact on lifestyles. They will record this in a KWL (Know - Want to Know - Learned) grid.

  • lifestyle
  • two up two down
  • scullery
  • Glenmachan House
  • extensive grounds

Resources

KWL Grid: Active Learning and Teaching Methods for Key Stages 1&2, page 44

Other Activities

Additional Pupil Activities

1. Research Activity

Pupils may research a slum or a shanty town to discover the living conditions of a typical ten-year-old child, www.savethechildren.org.uk

2. Narrative Writing

Imagine what it would be like to be the son of one of the wealthy mill owners. Write about your life:

  • What is your home like and how do you spend your time?
  • What does your father do?
  • How do you feel about working for him when you grow up? Would you like to do something else?

OR

You could imagine you are a daughter in the family instead. Do you think your life would be very different from your brothers’ lives? Write about your life:

  • What is your home like and how do you spend your time?
  • What does your father do?
  • Your brothers will work for your father when they grow up. Would you like to do that too?

Information for teacher

While middle-class girls in the nineteenth century and even early twentieth century were usually expected to marry and look after the home, there were exceptions. Mary Ann McCracken, in addition to her active charity work, ran a textile business for a period. See:

OR

Imagine you are the child of an Ulster-Scots mill worker in Belfast who has moved from the country to the town. Write about your life:

  • What is your home like and how do you spend your time?
  • What language do you use when speaking with your friends?
    Don’t forget to include some Ulster-Scots sayings and folklore which came with you from the country to the town, phrases such as, ‘ye wudna hear a whimper’ (you wouldn’t hear a sound), ye’re no sae green as ye’re cabbage luckin’ (you’re wiser than you look), ‘I tuk a scunner tae it’ (I took a dislike to it)
  • How do your parents earn their living?
  • What do you hope to do with your life when you are older?
3. Ulster-Scots Place Names

When the mill workers moved from the country into the towns, they brought some Ulster-Scots words with them. Some examples are:

  • brae – hillside
  • burn – stream
  • knowe – small hill
  • flush – boggy
  • pad – path
  • loanen or loaney – lane

Ask pupils to think of place names with Ulster-Scots words in them, for example, Millburn, Braehill, Sandyknowes, Glenburn etc.

  • lifestyle
  • two up two down
  • scullery
  • Glenmachan House
  • extensive grounds

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
  • Share and evaluate ideas and use evidence or reasons to justify opinions about houses and lifestyles; and
  • Pupils will use the TS&PC Thinking Card: Consider all factors.
Reading
  • Refer to evidence in the text about houses and lifestyles.
 

Cross-Curricular Skills: Using Information and Communications Technology

Internet Research (Explore)
  • Research, select, process and interpret information about modern day slums and shanty towns.

TS&PC

Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities

  • Thinking, Problem-Solving and Decision-Making (Pro and Cons of the Homes and Living Conditions)

WAU

The World Around Us: History

Change Over Time
  • Ways in which change occurs over both short and long periods of time in the physical world.
 

The World Around Us: Geography

Place
  • Features of the immediate world and comparison between places.

Resources

Ulster Place Names

Active Learning and Teaching Methods

Active Learning and Teaching Methods for Key Stages 1 & 2

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

Using ‘Post-its’, the pupils will list the pros and cons of the homes and living conditions of the mill owners and their workers. Pupils will use the TS&PC Thinking Card: Consider all factors when making their decisions.

In partnership with  Ulster Scots Agency