This little piggy

[Episode 19 | 1828 : Alice]

Alice and her family are delivering food to the indentured convicts working at the stone quarry when they have the idea of organising a pig race for the half-day holiday.


The Australian curriculum: History

Show curriculum details

The Australian Curriculum: History aims to ensure that students develop: 

  • interest in, and enjoyment of, historical study for lifelong learning and work, including their capacity and willingness to be informed and active citizens 
  • knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the past and the forces that shape societies, including Australian society 
  • understanding and use of historical concepts, such as evidence, continuity and change, cause and effect, perspectives, empathy, significance and contestability 
  • capacity to undertake historical inquiry, including skills in the analysis and use of sources, and in explanation and communication.

History activities [2]

Activity 1: Pig race
Show details
Subtheme(s): Culture; Customs and traditions; Entertainment and games

Race betting and gambling were popular during the 1820s, particularly as a recreational pastime in line with a celebration, for example, Christian events and Royal holidays. In a period before mass entertainment, small, locally organised events gave many people their only break from a heavy work schedule. There were no age limits on betting, so children and adults could be equally involved.

  • View the clip This little piggy and ask students why they think betting on a race was so important for the enjoyment of the half-day holiday and for the characters of Alice's story. To assist the students in understanding this question, have the class research daily living conditions in 1828 Australia and the events that constituted a holiday. Refer to Wikipedia, 'Religion in Australia' at
  • In pairs, students should research the history of racing in Australia. Direct students to research some of the following questions:
  1. What were some of the earliest organised racing events? (for example, horse racing, dog racing, foot racing, pigeon racing, rowing, sailing races)
  2. Who attended these races?
  3. Where and when were these events held?
  4. Who were some famous owners/trainers of race horses?
  • The following websites may be useful:
  1. Melbourne Cup, Victoria Racing Club,
  2. National Library of Australia, 'Cooee: Australia in the 19th Century',
  3. Racing Victoria,
  4. State Library NSW, 'A Day at the Races',

  • Divide the class into pairs. Ask each pair to produce at least ten questions about Australia in the early 1800s that could be answered with a 'true' or 'false' response. Collect all the questions to form a class question set. These questions will be used to create a 'pig race' game. Each pair of students represents one pig in the race. Make a track with enough lanes for every contesting pig. In each lane, mark out 10 squares from the start to the finish line. For every question that a pair answers correctly, their pig advances one square. The winning team is the one that reaches the finish first.


Activity 2: Working conditions
Show details
Subtheme(s): Chores, business and employment; Culture; Gender roles and stereotypes

In this clip, Alice's father announces that the convict workers will have a half-day holiday. The convicts are on assignment to the Owen family to build their house. They need to quarry the stone in order to finish the work by Christmas. Alice's father is their supervisor. Many convicts were not skilled for their work and toiled from dawn to dusk. Working conditions in 1828 were very different from what we expect of an Australian workplace today.

  • After viewing the clip This little piggy have a class discussion about workers' rights in Australia today and how these were different in Alice's day. Today there are strict laws governing the rights of workers that cover safety, length of hours, types of work performed, age of workers, holidays and what happens when someone has an accident or is sick.
  • Ask students to create a timeline of key events for the introduction of laws relating to working conditions in Australia.
  • The following websites may be useful:
  1. Eight Hour Day,
  2. State Library of Victoria, 'Fight for Rights',
  • In the 1820s, workers including children could be expected to work very long hours. To allow students to reflect on how difficult life was in this time, they should complete the Student Activity Sheet H19.2 Working conditions recording their own working, sleeping, eating and recreation habits.
  • Using the Student Activity Sheet H19.2 Working conditions, ask students to answer the following questions:
  1. How many hours are they are at school each day?
  2. How many hours do they usually sleep?
  3. How many hours are left for eating, play, music practice, sports etc?

  • Ask students to imagine that school days have been increased to 16 hours long and include Saturdays. Have students answer the following questions:
  1. What would this mean for the time you had for sleep and play? 
  2. How would you feel about having to work or go to school for 16 hours a day?
  • Students should draw up a 16-hour schedule for a 10-year-old child working in the early 1800s and compare it to a child's schedule today.
  • Alternatively, students can create a vodcast advertisement bringing people's attention to the poor working conditions that some people still face every day.


{tpl region name=footerbottom}