The Victorian Era – A Six Week Study Guide
This summer the children and I did an intensive six week study of the Victorian Era. If you’re about to study the Victorian Era, there are some great resources and ideas to choose from in this study guide.
The Victorian Era 1837-1901
During Queen Victoria’s reign, Britain reached the height of its power, ruling one-quarter of the world’s population in the largest empire that has ever existed. But this is not what makes the Victorian Era so special. The Victorian Era is important because it was a turning point in British history. Inventions, advancements in industry, social reform and scientific discovery during the Victorian Era have shaped the way we continue to live today.
- Spine: Who Was Queen Victoria?
- Additional Reading: Check out your local library for supplemental reading, especially those that contain simple crafts with materials that are usually on hand.
- Activity: Begin a Curio Cabinet, like the Victorian’s did. We cleared a shelf in our nature corner to display our books for the week, zines we made, Bohr models and butterflies.
I’ll admit I told the children we were doing this topic – it was the next era in our history series. But, in order to maintain some standard of self-directed learning, I took them to the library for their additional reading so I could see what about the Victorian Era piqued their interest.
- Spine: Who was Charles Dickens?
- Additional Reading: Illustrated Stories from Dickens, Usborne
- Activity: Watch Disney’s Oliver and Company and compare and contrast to Dickens’ Oliver Twist
- Extras: Dickens – Aquila Magazine
- Spine: Ada Lovelace: The Fantastically Feminist (and Totally True) Story of the Mathematician Extraordinaire
- Additional Reading: The Story of Coding, DK Readers Level 2
- Activity: Learning Resources Code and Go Robot Mouse or check out pinterest for printable and Lego options
- Additional Reading: Jane Eyre, Usborne
- Activity: Charlotte Bronte Biography Pack, A Page Out of History
- Spine: Who Was Marie Curie?
- Additional Reading: pg 6-7 & 10-11, See Inside Science, Usborne
- Activities: Introduce the periodic table, make Bohr models of atoms with pipe cleaners and beads and molecular models with soft candies and cocktail sticks
- Extras: Watch Properties of Matter playlist on Crash Course Kids
Florence Nightengale would be a good alternative to Marie Curie, but my children were already familiar with Curie and a bit squeamish about the medical advancements information covered in our study of the Victorian Era thus far.
- Spine: Who Was Charles Darwin?
- Additional Reading: On the Origin of Species by Sabina Radeva
- Activities: sprout a bean, grow butterflies
- In an effort to inject this study with a bit of writing, most weeks we spent Friday creating Zines about what we had learned that week – or if it was a real struggle, I let them write about anything at all. One week my eldest was really into space and nothing else was going into his brain or out that wasn’t space related.
Three Things About the Victorians
At the end of a deep dive into a topic, I like to ask the children what they will remember most. We try to combine our smaller snippets of memorable facts into three big ideas to remember. Here is what we took away from our study of the Victorians:
Industry in the Victorian Era changed where people lived and how they made money:
The First Industrial Revolution (1760-1840) meant families stopped making things at home in the country because these things were now made cheaply in factories in the city. This meant families moved away from the country to work at the factories in the cities.
Society in the Victorian Era was becoming more fair toward women and children:
Men, women and children worked in the factories. Women could not vote, but feminist ideas were spreading in the factories and the suffragette movement was growing. In 1880 children from ages five to ten legally had to attend school to keep them from the factories and mines.
Science in the Victorian Era grew into the discipline we know today:
Overcrowded cities were full of disease. Victorian Era doctors made great medical advancements through experimentation, like when John Snow proved his theory about the spread of cholera by removing the pump handle from the well in Soho. The Victorians gave us pasteurization, anasthesia and antisceptic and science grew ito the discipline it is today.