Industrial Revolution KS3 Smart Task: The Mystery of the Blackburn Cemetery

Why not start your class investigation into life during the Industrial Revolution with a mystery?

Based on a recent discovery of 800 child skeletons in a cemetery in Blackburn, pupils are challenged to work out why almost the graves were for children.  What seems to have happened?  Pupils might initially think it was a plague or disaster, but why were children affected disproportionately?  To work out the answer, pupils are given a set of just 4 finds and 7 clues.  You might want to add more.  As this is an introductory activity we haven’t over-complicated it.

By linking the finds with the clues and not rushing to too many sweeping conclusions too quickly pupils learn to analyse and then synthesise the information whilst also developing a sense of period that will hold them in good stead as they investigate the Industrial Revolution in more detail.

Highly accessible to all, this short, one-lesson enquiry (taught at the start of the topic, when pupils have little contextual knowledge) can also stretch and challenge. Pupils can work out with great precision when the most likely time the burials took place. By milking clue 7 they can also deduce that this was not a

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