Smart Task Puzzle Corner – Why did so many infants die when the death rate was falling?

Puzzle corner: SMART thinking skills task on why so many infants continued to die before their first birthday at a time when the death rate was falling rapidly.

This short activity works best as a starter or plenary and is particularly effective in encouraging able students to think about creative, yet credible, alternative answers.  Most pupils will settle for one or possibly two of those given.  Some will see that a single answer on its own is necessary but not sufficient.  They will want to talk about the combination of factors.  The most able should be encouraged to think of what the mystery answer might be.  Below are some notes that might help you give a credible answer.  When modelling how to think through the solution, the key aspect to stress is infants’ vulnerability and the weakness of their immune system.  This enables you to make links to what was known about germs at this time.  Cross-curricular links with science, such as this, are particularly helpful for G&T pupils in history as is the whole problem-solving approach.  Able pupils working together on this will really develop their cognitive thinking.

Background: The infant mortality rate is a sensitive measure of the

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