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What do you think happened just before this photograph was taken?

This photograph was taken in 1901. It shows a young boy dressed in a sailor suit standing in front of a sundial in a garden.

Photograph of a young boy dressed in a sailor suit standing in front of a sundial in a garden.
Photograph of a young boy dressed in a sailor suit standing in front of a sundial in a garden. © Reproduced by permission of Historic England Archive. Ref: BB98/10803

Teaching idea

Ask pupils to look carefully at the photograph, identifying things that they recognise, such as boy, grass, window, hat, stick etc. Then focus on the little boy, ask them to look at his face. Can they tell how he might have been feeling?

Think about how a photograph is a snapshot of one moment in time. But what happened before? What was he doing? Who else might have been there? Why does he look so grumpy? The accompanying PowerPoint (above) suggests ways of doing this.

Learning aims and outcomes

  • Make drawings and paintings using the visual clues from given images
  • Comment on differences in the messages given by part of an image compared with messages from the whole image
  • Suggest ideas about why the images were made and what they show about the people in them
  • Say what they think and feel about the image

Prior knowledge

  • An understanding that people feel and show different emotions

Extended learning and useful links

  • This activity could be taken further by combining it with the historical aspect of the photograph and using it to teach art and history at the same time

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