Lesson 2: The Half-Timers

This lesson will look at the half-timers’ working days, many of whom would have been of Ulster-Scots heritage. Pupils will have an opportunity to compare their day with that of the half-timers. They will also draw a bar chart to show the ages of children who worked in a mill and have an opportunity to comment on the data.

Main Areas of Curricular Focus

Lesson Plan

 

Learning Intentions

Learning Intentions

Pupils will:

  • understand the working day of a half-timer;
  • show an awareness of how the half-timers were treated by other pupils; and
  • use mathematical skills to interpret a table.
  • National School
  • half-timer
  • full-timer
  • Education Act
  • poverty

Starter

Starter

Explain that working children was a common practice in Victorian times. Even before the arrival of the mills in the cities, children were likely to work on farms or in ‘the big house’ to help with family finances. See Resource 4.4: Teacher Information Card 1.

Now discuss with pupils some typical Victorian jobs which children carried out. Ask pupils to guess what the following jobs entailed:

  1. Climbing boys - Audio clip: Chimney sweeps – climbing boys;
  2. Street sellers – children who were used to sell food on streets; and
  3. Entertainers – children who were used in circuses or as street performers.

Explain that children who worked in mills started as ‘half-timers’. Ask the pupils what they think this meant.

  • National School
  • half-timer
  • full-timer
  • Education Act
  • poverty

Resources

Resource 4.4: Teacher Information Card 1

Main Lesson

Main Lesson

Now discuss with pupils why so many children had to work in the mills. You may wish to discuss the poverty that people endured at that time. Explain what living conditions were like for those living in the cities and in the country. Display Resource 4.5: Half-Timers (IWB).

Some children at the National Schools did not work in the mills. They attended school every day. Half-timers often attended the same schools as these children.

Display Resource 4.6: 1870 Report on Half-Timers in School (IWB).

You may wish to have a whole class discussion about this report to encourage empathy with the half-timers. Ask the pupils to carry out a role play activity in groups of six, with two pupils as half-timers and the others as pupils who attend school full-time. How do the full-timers react to the half-timers? How do the half-timers feel? Pupils may also carry out a Freeze Frame Activity in which pupils are required to pose as a still image.

Pupil Activity

Display Resource 4.7: Children Employed in Green Way Mill (IWB).

Now look at some statistics from the mills. Ask the pupils to work in pairs to answer the questions in Resource 4.8: Children Employed in Green Way Mill (Worksheet). Resource 4.9: Squared Paper (Template) has been included to assist pupils with question 3.

Plenary

Plenary

Think, pair and then share one thing with a partner that you have learned about the lives of the half-timers.

  • National School
  • half-timer
  • full-timer
  • Education Act
  • poverty

Resources

Think, Pair and Share: Active Learning and Teaching Methods for Key Stages 1&2, page 70

Assessment Opportunity

Assessment Opportunity

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

Pupils may identify one thing they have learned about half-timers when compared with their own lives.

You may also wish to assess pupils carrying out their maths activities. Refer to the Levels of Progression when doing so.

  • National School
  • half-timer
  • full-timer
  • Education Act
  • poverty

Resources

Levels of Progression in Using Mathematics (Levels 1-5)

Other Activities

Additional Pupil Activities

1. The Working Day of a Half-Timer

Distribute Resource 4.10: The Working Day (Worksheet).

Pupils will use 24-hour clock time to record the working day of a half-timer and will compare this with their own.

2. Children’s Diets

Pupils will have an opportunity to explore how their food differs from that of a child mill worker and can make some Victorian food using simple recipes.

  • You may wish to share Resource 4.11: Teacher Information Card 2 with pupils or ask them to research the diet of Victorian mill children with a partner.
  • Complete the table in Resource 4.12: How my Food Differs from that of a Child Mill Worker (Worksheet).

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 a range of drama activities across the curriculum, for example role play about half-timers.

Cross-Curricular Skills: Mathematics and Numeracy

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)

Measures
  • Understand the relationship between the 12 and 24-hour clock in the context of a child’s working day in the mill.
Handling Data
  • Interpret information from a table, create a bar graph and draw conclusions from their graph.

TS&PC

Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities

Managing Information
  • Comparing and evaluating information.
 

WAU: History

The World Around Us: History

Change Over Time
  • How the world has changed over time, for example the working day of children and their diets.

PD&MU

Personal Development & Mutual Understanding

Strand 1 (Personal Understanding and Health)
  • Healthy and unhealthy lifestyles.

Resources

Fit for the Future

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.

Pupils carry out a Freeze Frame Activity (role play) which requires them to form a still image of how full-time pupils reacted to half-timers.

Suggested Websites & Resources

In partnership with  Ulster Scots Agency