Eggs for tuppence

[Episode 16 | 1858 : Ben]

After foraging in the forest for plover's eggs, Ben competes with Leck to sell them to the local populace. He then gets into trouble with his father after he repeats an ugly stereotype about Chinese people that he learnt from Mr Wilson.


The Australian curriculum: History

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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: Regular boy
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Subtheme(s): Chores, business and employment; Currency; Social order and education

In this clip, Ben and his friend Leck earn money by selling the food that they catch and harvest from the surrounding area. In a time before grocery stores, food was often sold by local suppliers straight to the kitchen door.

  • Ask students to research where food from the mid-19th century (Ben and Leck's time) was bought, grown or manufactured. The clip shows the boys collecting eggs from birds' nests in neighbouring bushland.
  • As a class, discuss the origins of food we eat today. Ask students to consider how the food they regularly eat is grown, manufactured, bought and packaged.
  • Discuss with students how some foods had not been invented in Ben's era or were unavailable in Australia at that time. Draw up a list of foods that existed in both eras, and a list of foods that are available today but were not available in the 1850s.

  • Introduce the concept of mapping by showing students maps from the My Place storybook. Ask students to create a map of where Ben and Leck live, including the surrounding area where they go fishing and hunt for eggs. Students should make a comparison map of their own homes and surrounding areas. Ask students to include in these maps the places where their family shops for food. Ask students to investigate whether any of the food they eat is grown or manufactured in their local area, and to include this on their maps. As a class, students can discuss how the two maps compare and where most of their food comes from today.
  • Alternatively, students could create a web page looking at what types of food are edible in their local area. Or look at the labels of foods brought from home and identify those with ingredients grown and made in Australia.
  • As an extension activity, students could view the following web pages showing the weekly diet of different families from around the world. Ask students to reflect on where these different families source their food. Ask the students to consider why some of these family diets have more in common with the food from Ben's era than with modern Australia.
  • The following websites may be useful:
  1. Time, 'What the world eats Part 1',,29307,1626519,00.html 
  2. Time, 'What the world eats Part 2',,29307,1645016,00.html


Activity 2: Jobs and pocket money
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Subtheme(s): Chores, business and employment; Currency; Inventions and electronic media

In this clip, we see Ben and Leck earning money by selling small produce and performing various odd jobs.

  • As a class, discuss the different ways they saw Ben and Leck earn money in the clip. Discuss how Ben and Leck earned money in comparison to the way children earn pocket money today.
  • As a class, brainstorm a list of focus questions about jobs and money. Teachers can write these focus questions on large sheets of paper and place them around the classroom. Students can use these sheets as a graffiti wall, responding to each question in order to explore their thoughts and feelings on the theme of jobs and pocket money. Students move around the room writing their responses, drawing pictures and recording their thoughts on each sheet of paper.
  • The following websites may be useful:
  1. Associated Content, '5 House Chores Your Children Can Take Care of for You',
  2. Victorian Nursery 19th Century Children,
  3. Life in the first half of the 19th century,

  • Ask students to use a Venn diagram comparing the ways children earned money in the 1850s with how children earn money today. Ask students to describe what is different about some of the jobs and what is similar.
  • Divide the class into two groups to debate the topic 'Kids of today have it too easy - they should work harder for their pocket money'.


Student Activity Sheet H.16.4: Jobs and pocket money

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