Traditional Toy Day Visits at Your Own school

Our traditional toy day will be enjoyed by children of all ages. Drawing on beloved toys of the past the day blends teaching with practical tests - after all you've got to try them out! Suitable for younger children, but also a good topic for family events, particularly those attended by older people who love remembering the toys from the past.

Here is a brief outline of what we can do, although the exact programme will be tailored to local circumstances and can be modified according to age and number of children:


We work with children of any age, generally in groups of 25-35 at a time. We have visited schools of all types, and a map of the area we have covered is given below

See here for a Victorian School Day, here for a Victorian Life Day and here for a Vintage Domestic Day

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bullet Some of the things included in a Traditional Toy Day

The Victorian Traditional Toy Day covers the development of toys from early times to the present day. Starting with early toys such as clay marbles, we look at Victorian toys made of wood and metal. We then look at toys being introduced towards the end of the Victorian era benefiting from the manufacturing processes of the Industrial Revolution. Tin toys and clockwork toys were popular, some of them being imported from Germany.

The toys of the 20th Century introduce well-known names, including:

  • Meccano also by Frank Hornby, a wonderful construction set. Started in 1898.
  • Hornby, started in 1901 by Frank Hornby, a range of model trains.
  • Brio, a Swedish toy, dating back to 1908. Wooden trains and tracks.
  • 1930-1960

  • Mickey Mouse Soft Toy, introduced after the success of Disney's Steamboat Willie film, 1930.
  • Bayco, a construction set with parts made from an early for of plastic, Bakelite, which were slotted on steel rods to make houses and so on. 1933.
  • Monopoly, the British game dates from 1936 but the origins in the US were earlier.
  • Viewmaster, a sterescopic viewer which used disks containing seven pairs of images. Although not just for children, a lot of reels were intended for children. 1939.
  • Slinky, a helical spring toy invented in the US in 1940s.
  • Matchbox Toys, model diecast cars that were sold in a small "matchbox". First produced in 1948.
  • Lego, a Danish company that started in 1949 making plastic building kits and toys.
  • Play Doh, modelling compound, made in the US in 1930 as a wallpaper cleaner, but marketed as a toy from nid-1950s
  • Scrabble first sold in the UK in 1955 but developed in the US from 1938.
  • Corgi Toys, diecast toy cars made in Swansea from 1956.
  • Hula Hoops, although often mistaken for the Victorian hoop, these were made of lighter material, often plastic, so they can be twirled around the body. They date back a long way, but were marketed extensively from 1958.
  • 1960-2000

  • Barbie, a similar Amercian version from Mattel Toys in 1959
  • Etch-A-Sketch, invented by a Frenchman, and sold by a Canadian Company. 1960.
  • Sindy, a teenage doll, from Pedigree Toys in 1963
  • Spirograph is a geometric drawing toy invented by British Designer in 1965
  • Rubik's Cube. A puzzle cube made of plastic. Considered the world's best selling toy. 1977.
  • Transformers, a toy which can be transformed from machine to human. Marketed from 1984

The day is mainly focussed on the more traditional toys, although mention is made of later toys, and it is shown how toys evolved and changed over the course of time.

Hand made toys are discussed, and if there is time children are given the opportunity to make a simple toy or two.

Games of various sorts are also mentioned from simple games like tag or British Bulldog, through to games with more complex rules such as skipping games. Party games are also mentioned including the ppopular Victorian game, mentioned by Dickens, Charades. If there is time children may play some of these games.

The broad scope of the subject allows plenty of opportunity for customising to local needs or presenting to all ages, and although a day of fun, it encompases interesting social history.

bullet Dressing up clothes for Victorian re-enactment

Victorian classWe can bring clothes for children to wear if required, or you might like to involve parents in making suitable clothes. Our own staff wear Victorian style clothes. We may also be able to provide clothes for teachers or visitors to wear. The clothes can be put over regular school clothes.

bullet Artefacts and equipment

We bring a number of items to assist in our talk, which varies according to age and local conditions. We bring a selection of washing equipment, cleaning things, and general household items and many other things. For play we bring a selection of Vintage games such as marbles, stilts, top, skipping ropes and diabolos. We can bring a selection of artefacts to illustrate specific talks, such as kitchen and washing items, and domestic items. What we bring will depend upon the time we have with the children, and many other factors, but if you have a particular need please discuss it with us.

bullet Time scale

We need some time to prepare for the lesson, at least 30 minutes. It also takes some time to carry the equipment in, so probably best allow something like an hour for setting up. If we are starting in the morning, then we will generally arrive about an hour before start of school.

A lesson takes about 30-45 minutes depending on the age of the children (shorter for younger children). Additional time is needed for playing with the games.

bullet The cost

What it costs depends on a number of factors including how long we are at your school , how far away you are from one of our teachers, and how many children are involved. It usually compares favourably with taking a class to a museum or dedicated facility. Our price is made up of four parts:

Teaching fee per day


Travel costs

Miscellaneous additional charges including materials costs.

As a guide price it is likely to cost from £8 per child. If you let us know what you want we will quote an exact price. More details are given in our downloadable synopsis.

bullet Frequently Asked Questions

How far do you travel to a school?

We are prepared to travel anywhere in the UK, but the further we go the more it will cost. If you are a long way from one of our teachers, then it might be best to consider a longer visit to spread the cost between several classes.

Can you accommodate specific lesson content requests?

We may be able to incorporate specific teaching requests, please ask.

We don't have any suitable room in our school. Can you suggest anything?

There are many buildings that were probably around in Victorian times which would make a great environment. Think about village and church halls, manor houses, libraries and so on.

What is the shortest/longest time you come?

From half a day to one week

Isn't it better to go to a real Victorian School or recreated classroom?

You may be situated too far away from such a facility, or it may not be open when you need it. With a visit to your own school the timetable can be tailored to fit your exact needs. In addition the children will generally get a lot more teaching time.

Doesn't it cost a lot more to have a visit to my school against visiting a facility?

On the surface it may appear to be more expensive, but when comparing costs don't forget to take into account staffing expenses, travelling costs, and extras such as providing costumes. When we come to you our charge is all-inclusive.

Why do you charge for coming?

We would love to be able to visit for nothing, but we need money to live, just like anyone else! We are not part of the Museum service or a charitable trust, so we have to pay our way. Some of our earning are returned in free resources available on our website.

Will we get an actor or a teacher?

A little bit of both. For a successful presentation there has to be some acting, but the main aim is to teach in an interesting way. The children will learn a lot, and many teachers have told us that they have also learnt.

Do you do other periods of history or do other types of visits?

We do cover other historical periods. You will find them listed in the menu to the left. If you require a cisit that is not listed, please enquire.

vintage toy train old teddy bear and soft toys toy block set Matchbox toy

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Visits to Your School


Other Eras

All (overview)

If you have another period in mind please enquire.


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Map showing areas where we have already made school visits

map of schools visited

Download details of a Victorian Day in your own school

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Want to visit a real
Victorian School?

Here is a list of real Victorian schools