Children's chores

[Episode 9 | 1928 : Bridie]

Bridie's family is having breakfast and discussing what they will do that day. Her father and brother are going to work at the brickworks, her mother will be cleaning floors for neighbours, and Bridie and her older sister Kath are expected to look after baby Colum and do chores around the house. Bridie spies on Kath and her friend Lorna as they plan to get away from their responsibilities and have a picnic by the river.


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 [3]

Activity 1: Chores
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Subtheme(s): Chores, business and employment; Relationships

In 1923 the government of Stanley Bruce created the 'Men, Money and Markets' policy. Its aim was to find new markets for Australian products and to use immigration as a way to increase the number of workers in Australia. This policy benefited the agricultural sector, but conditions and wages for urban workers deteriorated between 1920 and 1929, leading to workers' strikes.

With many Australian men fighting in First World War (1914–18), women filled the jobs left vacant in an effort to support the war effort. The movement into the workforce changed the role of women and by the 1920s it had become more acceptable for both men and women to work.

In 1928, the life of many children in Australia was one of hard work and responsibility to family. This episode portrays the difficulties commonly encountered by many Australian families, with a father
and mother who both need to work and children who have to tend to the home and look after their younger siblings.

  • Watch the clip 'Children's chores' and discuss the types of chores the girls do. Make a list of the chores that Bridie and her sister are responsible for. Make another list of the types of chores children do today. Introduce the concept that technology is the factor that makes the jobs around the home different today. One example is the use of washing machines and dishwashers in today's homes. Additionally, ask students to compare the chores of Bridie and her sister Kath to those completed by other children in previous and subsequent episodes.

  • Use Student Activity Sheet H9.1 to record the lists of chores for both eras. Ask students to research information on the tools or technology used to carry out each chore. An example could be a broom used for sweeping, or the vacuum cleaner used for cleaning today. The contrast of activities and machines or tools used can be shared. Questions for discussion during share time could include:
  1. Are chores today similar or different to those in the clip?
  2. How do tools or machines help with household chores?
  • As a class, discuss the topic: 'Are chores easier today compared to 1928?'
  • Ask students to write a paragraph about why chores are easier to carry out in today's society and then share their points of view with the class.


Activity 2: Work
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Subtheme(s): Chores, business and employment; Entertainment and games; Social order and education

Times were tough in 1928. The economy was on the brink of depression, and soon Australia would see job losses and a housing crisis. Children were given a lot of responsibility and in many cases had little or no time for play. Episode 9 highlights the quest of the children to escape their daily routine in order to have some fun.

  • 'Historyface' and blog: Using the 'historyface' template students are asked to create a profile for a child in 1928, and add a blog attachment. The blog may include a diary entry, or a list of complaints relating to tough times and chores. Students are encouraged to become the voice of their child character of 1928.


Activity 3: Heritage
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Subtheme(s): Multiculturalism; Social order and education

Bridie's mother is Irish. In the early 1900s, the Irish constituted a large proportion of immigrants to Australia. Most Irish immigrants came to the colonies on assisted passage after escaping the crippling effects of the 1840s Irish Potato Famine. Find out more about the legacy of the Irish in Australia at:

  1. Museum Victoria: Origins, 'History of immigration from Ireland',
  2. Racism. No Way,
  • Discuss the countries of origin of students' families. Collect data on the different cultures represented in the class and record this as a graph.

  • Ask students to interview a senior member of their family and ask them questions about their own parents and grandparents. Students then document and chart a genealogical tree of their ancestors as far back as they can research.


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