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What sort of toys did my great grandparents play with?

This photograph of the Triang Toy Shop in Manchester was taken in 1927. It shows a selection of the toys on display nearly 90 years ago.

Photograph of Triang toy shop, Manchester, in 1927.
Photograph of Triang toy shop, Manchester, in 1927. © Reproduced by permission of Historic England Archive. Ref:CC80/00296

Teaching idea

Look at this photograph of a toy shop from 1927. As a class or in groups ask the pupils to write a list of all the toys they can see in the photograph. Then ask pupils to choose their favourite toy - but keep it a secret. Discuss how they might describe their chosen toy by thinking about shapes, sizes and what it might be made of.

Then in pairs or small groups ask them to describe the characteristics of their favourite toy, so that others in the group can try and guess which one it is. Alternatively this could be turned into a questioning game, where the others in the group ask yes/no questions such as: Does it have wheels? etc.

This could be consolidated by asking each pupil to draw their chosen toy and label it with the words they used to describe it.

Above are some general notes on the history of toys and toy shops, plus a Power Point Activity to accompany this Teaching Idea.

Learning aims and outcomes

  • Some background knowledge of old toys would be useful but not essential
  • Some knowledge about what toys might be made of, such as wood, metal, plastic etc.

Prior knowledge

  • Describe the characteristics of old toys
  • Speak about toys that belonged to their grandparents/great-grandparents
  • Infer information about toys in the past by studying old toys

Extended learning and useful links

  • The activity could also be done using new toys, then using this knowledge to look at the similarites between old and new toys
  • Pupils could be asked to compare the inside of the old toy shop with that of a toy shop today
  • Museum of Childhood's online collections

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