Activity 3: What was life like?

The ideas suggested here are to provide the students with a 'sense of the past' outside the formal and structured setting of their own classroom. By 'experiencing the past' during an excursion students are able to establish a sense of time and place.

Many Australian capital cities still have visible remains of early 1900s Federation-style architecture, including inscribed dates on the facades of many buildings, street names and suburbs which reflect a connection to 'the Empire'.

The following suggested strategies can be used when students are investigating sites and viewing artefacts, displays in museums, libraries, etc as a way of developing their own questions and inquiries about the past.

Also, see the following sample worksheets:
Photo analysis worksheet (PDF, 129 KB)
Reading historical images (PDF, 120 KB)
Federation discussion points (PDF, 148 KB)

Excursions and incursions


  • Heritage buildings (including museums, farm houses, school rooms) representative of the Federation era. Student can 'experience' doing chores, playing games, school routines, dressing in period clothing.
  • Plan a street walk in a local area or capital city CBD area. Go armed with digital cameras and other mobile devices to record evidence, student thinking and questions.
  • Visit State Art Galleries and State Libraries. View online collections of images, artworks and documents from the Federation era.
  • Access relevant education programs at a range of state and local museums and other institutions.


  • Loan boxes and pre and post excursion activities are available from local museums, libraries, and heritage venues.
  • Invite visiting storytellers and local historians from historical societies.
  • View relevant segments of the ABC's My Place website, particularly Episode 12, 1898
This black-and-white silent clip shows footage of street life in the Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn at the beginning of the 20th century and includes pedestrians, horse-drawn taxi cabs, carriages, bicyc Living Hawthorn, businesses and street life in Hawthorn, Victoria, 1906
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