Hampshire Cultural Trust

Investigating the past

This is a 2 hour programme led by a facilitator.

It is suitable for one class (up to 35 pupils) of KS2 children.


  • During the session you will need to divide into 5 groups and these will rotate around the activities.
  • When doing group work the facilitator will oversee the session but adult helpers will lead each individual group.
  • It is useful for the facilitator if your pupils are wearing name stickers.

Session Objectives

To investigate the past by

  • Examining the characteristic features of objects that might have been used by people in the past, using real museum collections.
  • Using original 19th century and modern maps to explore how Alton has changed over time.
  • Discovering what photographs and pictures reveal about how life has changed over  time
  • Using historical documents to find out about the lives of people who lived in the past.
  • Discover the answers to the questions contained in a research request about the life of Mary Wyeth.



  • Welcome to the Curtis Museum and the session.
  • Explanation of the objective - to find out what life was like the past, and to help the Curtis Museum with a research request.
  • Run through of health and safety, facilities and the handling rules for our collection.


Pupils will then divide into their five groups and rotate around the following activities.

Each activity will also provide an answer to the questions posed on the research request letter.

Mapping the Changes

Looking at 19th Century and modern map, pupils will investigate the changes that have taken place over a period of time.  They will consider a series of statements and decide which are true and which are false.

Picture the Past

Pupils are given historical photographs taken in the local area and sort them in themes:

  • Occupations
  • Children
  • Hop Pickers
  • Streets

The group will consider about how useful photographs might be as evidence, providing clues for understanding life in the past.

The group will look at three photographs of Church Street to see how it has changed or remained the same over a period of time.

Through the Keyhole

Pupils will use the census records about people who lived in the High Street in 1881 and 1891.  They will find the answers to a series of questions about these people.

Whose am I?

Pupils will have the opportunity to handle and identify real objects from the past. They will then be given 6 information cards about different people and must then try to match each of the objects with a person.

Someone Else’s Shoes!

In this activity, pupils will be given an information card describing a Victorian character. They will need to decide if the person is rich or poor, then choose the appropriate costume to try on.


The class will come back together with the facilitator for a plenary. They will share their answers to the research request and discuss what they have found out.