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 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Australia
- In pairs, students should research the history of racing in Australia. Direct students to research some of the following questions:
- What were some of the earliest organised racing events? (for example, horse racing, dog racing, foot racing, pigeon racing, rowing, sailing races)
- Who attended these races?
- Where and when were these events held?
- Who were some famous owners/trainers of race horses?
- The following websites may be useful:
Melbourne Cup, Victoria Racing Club, http://www.melbournecup.com/victoria-racing-club/about-history.asp
National Library of Australia, 'Cooee: Australia in the 19th Century', http://www.nla.gov.au/exhibitions/cooee/leisure.html
Racing Victoria, http://www.racingvictoria.net.au/australianracingmuseum/default.aspx
State Library NSW, 'A Day at the Races', http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/discover_collections/society_art/races/index.html
- 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.
Student Activity Sheet: H19.1 Pig race