leighton and the midddle east

Classroom activities

Key Stage 1&2:

Art and Design
Investigating Materials (Unit 1b)
Can Buildings Speak (Unit 2c)
Investigating Pattern (Unit 3b)

Living in a Diverse World
(Unit 5)

Key Stage 3:

Art and Design
What's in a building? (Unit 7b)
Change your style (Unit 9b)

Britain – a diverse society?
(Unit 4)

What were the achievements of the Islamic State 600-1600? (Unit 6, section 5)

Leighton House Webquest (download Word document)
download pdf

Key Stage 1&2 Citizenship:
Living in a Diverse World
(Unit 05)

These ideas for activites can be used as preparation for, or follow up from, a museum visit. Alternatively they can be used in conjunction with a 'whole class virtual tour'. The webquests offer separate activities and can be used alongside these activities.

Section 1: How are we the same and how are we different?
Section 2: What are communities like?
Section 3: What are different places like?
Section 4: How are we all connected?

Section 1: How are we the same and
how are we different?

Discussing issues of difference in the classroom is complex and needs to be handled sensitively. This is the case whether the class contains pupils from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds or whether pupils are from the same community group. In both cases there is the possibility that negative assumptions can be formed. Some pupils may also feel isolated or perhaps think they have become the focus of undue attention. History, historical artefacts and historical personalities can successfully be used by teachers within Citizenship to create a space for discussion where pupils do not feel 'in the spotlight' but yet are confident to discuss their own and their peers identity.

Considering the serious nature of the learning involved in 'How are we the same and how are we different' it is advisable with Key Stage 1 & 2 pupils to couch the lesson in familiar territory i.e. children and childhood. It would appear that two difficult contradictory questions are being asked in this unit 'How are we the same'? 'How are we different'? The successful teaching outcome will be to impart an awareness of the diversity of humankind along with the understanding that all people have universal 'core needs' as outlined below.

This lesson plan breaks this topic into two manageable sections:
a) How are we the same?
b) How are we different?

Aim: Establishing that all people have universal 'core needs' even though they live different lives and come from various backgrounds.

Method: Use experiences of nineteenth century children to assist your pupils in questioning how children were different from each other in the past and what is different/similar today.

Resources: Study of Sleeping Baby by Leighton (1850), pupils photographs of themselves when babies or toddlers.


How are we the Same?
Before children can discuss the more complex issues of identity, it is helpful to establish some 'core needs' common to everyone. Use Leighton's sketch of the sleeping baby to elicit from your pupils some of the basic core human needs from birth right through life i.e. good health, care, protection, love, friendship, sense of belonging, etc. Get your pupils to bring in photos of themselves as babies/toddlers. This should cause quite a lot of excitement and fun but you can use this exercise to reinforce the 'core needs' identified with the Leighton sketch and illustrate that such needs are common over time and in all cultures.

How are we different?
To introduce your pupils to this topic, begin by exploring how children's lives in the Victorian period were different. You could draw on work done in History at Key Stages 1 & 2 'What was it like for children living in Victorian Britain'. This approach enables your pupils to question differences in the lives of historical children through the issue of 'rich and poor'. The historical angle sufficiently distances pupils from their own family circumstances but yet allows them to put experiences of difference then and now into context.

Explain that the baby in Leighton's sketch was born into a wealthy as opposed to a poor Victorian family. He was the son of the famous British poet, Robert Browning 1812-89, and was also called Robert. Get your pupils to consider the following:

a) how this child's life and upbringing might have been different from a child less fortunate in the nineteenth century.

b) how this child's life is similar/different to their own

The following are helpful pointers:
Health - access to medicine and medical knowledge
Nutrition - access to good food
Education - sent to school as opposed to work
Family life - cared for by nurses/nannies, limited contact with parents
Pastimes and toys - technology of 19th versus 21st century
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Section 2: What are communities like?

Having successfully established in Section 1 with your pupils that people are different yet share 'core needs' it is vital to carry this mode of thinking into Section 2.

It is first important to instill in your pupils the attributes of what makes a good community. For this purpose the 'core needs' as discussed in Section 1 now become 'shared values'. The latter would consist of concepts such as respect for other people, including others in decision making, sharing information and helping others in times of need. Keep the focus of exploring this topic connected to imagery that your pupils will relate to

Establishing what the word community means and highlighting that we all belong to many different communities but still have 'shared values'. Method: Use example of a school or class and hobby/leisure groups to explore idea of community.

Resources: Image of a school in Cairo c.1900 and examples of membership of hobby/leisure groups e.g. photos, membership cards, uniforms etc.


1) Show your pupils the photograph of a school in Cairo c.1900. Explain that the word 'community' can be used to define a group of people who either live close together or come together for some type of activity. In this instance you are showing them a community of school children from over 120 years ago in a different country and environment than their own.

Questions for your class:
 What differences can your pupils list from their own school community?
 Different country
 Teaching outdoors
 School uniform
 School implements i.e. reading/writing materials

2) Get your pupils to consider types of behaviour that would have positive and negative impacts on a school community. Positive - sharing, consideration, friendliness, thoughtfulness etc Negative - selfishness, rudeness, bullying etc

Using the photos or objects from the hobby/leisure groups that the children have brought into class, get your class to discuss how their out of school community is similar or not to their school community.

Section 3 - What are different
places like?

A fun activity to work on with your pupils that also has an important early effect on how they view other regions of the world and cultures. This section also allows you to gently challenge any potential negative stereotypes that you perceive to be forming amongst your class.

Aim: To get your pupils to learn about different countries and cultures and be able to comprehend regional difference.

Method: Use different coloured thread to link countries together on a world map and have your pupils ask and answer questions on their chosen country.

Resources: Map of world, coloured thread


1) As a warm-up exercise, a few days before you begin this section ask your pupils to collect a selection of holiday photos from family trips abroad or take cuttings of hot and cold countries from newspapers/magazines.

2) Together as a class, separate out the warm from the cold countries. You could draw on work done in Geography at Key Stage 1 & 2 'Passport to the world' at this point. In relation to the photos/cuttings brought in you could discuss the following:
 How does the appearance of the landscapes differ from country to country.
 Are peoples clothes different? If so, is this because of climate, religious or cultural reasons?
 How are homes different in each country represented?
 Contrast all the above with your pupils view of Britain and their own familiar 'home space'.
3) Break your class in groups of 4 or 5 and allocate each group a different country in the world. Each group should be given a different piece of coloured thread to plot a line from the UK to their chosen country. Have them write a brief story of an imaginary trip to this country and what they might see on their journey. Refer back to the work done in the warm-up exercise at the start. The following sections of our website will also assist your pupils in this section:
Leighton and Victorian Travel,
Paintings and Drawings

Section 4 - How are we all connected?

A potentially difficult topic for pupils at Key Stages 1 & 2. However, by looking at where items such as food and clothing are produced in the world and how they get to our shops, it helps bring the relevant issues to life. It is also valuable to contrast todays movement of goods from that of the past to consider issues such as ease of availability, effects on countries/peoples who produce the goods and how 21st century technology has a positive or negative impact on world communities.

Aim: To get pupils to understand that communities/societies are interdependent on each other in a national and international context for access to food and other goods.

Method: Examine places of production for various goods and trace their travel across the globe to your classroom.
Resources: Map of world, website map of Leighton's travels, selection of fruit/vegetables from across the world, items brought in by your class from various regions of the world (could be real items from home or cut from papers/magazines).


1) Ask your pupils to bring in either foods, clothing or personal items (toys) that have been made in foreign countries. Break your class into the same groups as were formed while working on Section 3. In their groups get them to locate the countries that their selected items came from.

2) Now get them to draw the methods of transport (pane, ship, lorry etc) that brought such goods to the UK.

3) Contrast this with looking at the map of Leighton's travels. Get your pupils to consider the following:
 Look at the countries Leighton visited. What types of food would he have encountered on his travels?

 How would people in the Victorian age have brought goods back to the UK in those days (makes pupils consider 21st century technology, ease of access to produce today for most people etc). This could be extended to consider whether new technology is damaging the countries that produce the goods we see in our shops. The environment and climate could also be introduced here i.e. air travel and its effects.
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