Schools

Overview

The NSW Schoolhouse Museum is open for pre-booked school excursions. Students use the skills of historical inquiry to investigate the past. We offer three programs: Stage 1 -School Life of the Past; Stage 2 – Continuity and Change; and Stage 2 – At School At War.

In our Stage 1 and Stage 2 programs that investigate school life and education of the past, students experience early school lessons, examine artefacts and do outdoor activities such as drill, maypole dancing and playground games. 

Our Community and Remembrance At School At War excursion for Stage 2 recreates First World War community contributions to the war effort from the perspective of school students. 

The fully restored schoolrooms are furnished with original school furniture. A varied collection of exercise books, texts, craft works, teaching resources and items from daily life are on exhibit.

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Learning Experiences

Objects from the past hold stories and memories and what better way to discover these than through hands-on learning. Students interact with museum objects as much as possible.

Our program supports the new History K-10 syllabus by providing a range of primary source materials for student use and analysis. Students use skills of historical inquiry to interpret sources, recreated experiences and authentic spaces to develop understandings about the past.

Stage 1 – School Life in the Past

Our Stage 1 program immerses students in daily school life of the past. Students compare daily life, use changing technologies and analyse and interpret remains of the past. Read about a typical visit.

Inquiry questions

  • How has school and everyday life changed and remained the same over time?
  • What aspects of past schooling can be seen today and what do they tell us?
  • How have changes in technology shaped our schooling and daily lives?

Students:

  • Experience an 1880s school lesson sitting at long-toms by firelight
  • Examine artefacts and discuss the stories they hold
  • Explore exhibits of old objects and consider changes over time
  • Look at early crafts and work samples treasured through generations
  • Write on slates with genuine slate pencils
  • Dip an ink pen to write Copperplate with pen and ink
  • Study early photographs of school children and discover life in the past
  • Use early technologies such as rubber stamps and jelly pads
  • Dress in pinafores and sailors’ collars
  • Dance around a maypole
  • Practise military drill using wands or dumb bells
  • Play with early toys such as knuckles, marbles and spinning tops
  • Toast bread over the fire (winter only)
  • Enjoy early playground games such as ‘fly’, skipping and bowling hoops
  • Compare life of the past to that of today. 

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Stage 2 – Continuity and Change (Community and Remembrance)

Stage 2 students use and analyse primary sources and immersive experiences to investigate the continuities and changes in education from the 1880s to the present. Students compare teaching and learning methods, use changing technologies and analyse and interpret sources such as artefacts, photographs and recreated classrooms. Download sample Stage 2 visit plan.

Inquiry questions

  • How and why has primary education in New South Wales changed?
  • What aspects of education in New South Wales have remained the same?

Students:

  • Sit at original desks in rooms recreating the 1880s, 1910/20s and 1950s/60s
  • Experience an 1880s school lesson sitting at long-toms by firelight
  • Examine artefacts and discuss and analyse the evidence they hold
  • Explore past educational objects and consider changes and continuities
  • View early student workbooks and crafts treasured through generations
  • Write on slates with genuine slate pencils
  • Dip an ink pen to write Copperplate with pen and ink
  • Study early photographs of school children to explore education in the past
  • Use early technologies such as jelly pads, rubber stamps and cuisenaire rods
  • Create early crafts such as knitting, twisted threads and needlework
  • Dress in lacy collars and sailors’ collars to step into role
  • Dance around a maypole
  • Practise military drill using wands
  • Toast bread over the fire (winter only)
  • Enjoy early playground games such as ‘fly’, skipping and bowling hoops
  • Compare education of the past to that of today. 

Students wearing cotton gloves to examine old objects in school cases

Stage 2 – At School At War (Community and Remembrance)

At School At War has a hands-on focus in a First World War context. Students use props and sources as wartime schoolchildren to contribute to the war effort on the home front. They build understandings of the origins and significance of ANZAC Day and the impacts of war on the community. More details about At School At War. Download the At School At War flier.

Inquiry questions

  • What is the nature of the contribution made by NSW school children to the First World War?
  • What is the significance of ANZAC Day and how and why do people remember it?

Students:

  • Recite an oath and sing patriotic songs in a re-enacted 1915-1918 school assembly
  • Dress in costumes representing countries of  the Empire and step into a 1915 photo of a school Empire Day tableau
  • Draw a map using pen and ink showing the location of Gallipoli
  • Write a postcard to a First World War teacher soldier serving at the front
  • Learn cadet drill and semaphore flags as prescribed by the 1916 Junior Cadet Training Text Book
  • Stretch, bend and follow commands to undertake prescribed physical fitness exercises
  • Create a 3D model of a military camp as pictured in the August 1915 Public Instruction Gazette
  • Examine photographs and other sources relating to NSW school children’s First World War contributions
  • Roll and fold bandages as Junior red Cross members 
  • Weigh vegetables to calculate sales to contribute to a war fund
  • Spin fleece using a drop spindle to make yarn for knitting into socks
  • Copy a verse to a soldier at the front in pen and ink from a 1917 School Magazine.