Learning about Stephenson’s Rocket

Learning about Stephenson’s Rocket

On Monday we were participating in a History Fair, set up for Home Educators across Manchester. We had such good fun at the Geography fair in October last year, that I was keen for us to participate again. I think it’s good for the children to see the different approaches that can be taken to learning, and I find it very inspiring too to see just what can be achieved.

I’ll be honest and say that it was really tough getting to the point of having something to display. D had initially wanted to work on a Roman’s project, and we had done some bits and pieces but, it soon became apparent that he just wasn’t into it at all, and it was becoming a real battle. I suggested a few times that we switched our theme, but he was adamant we were going to do the Romans. A week or so ago we agreed that we would instead look at trains, and with that focus on Stephenson’s Rocket.

This worked really well for us, trains are a big hit here for both him and E so it played into their natural interest. We had a look at the fab BBC Primary History site and set to work on it. We made a small lapbook which held pictures of George Stephenson, a picture they had coloured and we then talked about the key dates and made a timeline. I left our board up with points for discussion on across the day to prompt me to think of things to ask the children, and for Damian to know what we’d been thinking about so he could follow up when he was home from work too.

teacher board wedge board with history fair questions

We then decided to make a model of the Rocket, so the children drew a design out and I prompted them to have a think about the shapes they’d need. They then raided the recycling and, with a little help, D managed to make it. We made a driver for it too and I think it looked pretty good.

junk model stephensons rocket

I also wanted to get the children thinking about what it might have felt like to be on the Rocket, so we wrote a story together. D illustrated it and I wrote his words into it. This was a really good way to get them to think about language and how we could think about and compare the experience of someone going on a train for the first time when it wasn’t an unusual thing for them to see these days.

On the day of the fair, we set our stand up (We used this TeacherBoards Wedge Board to display our work on) and then had a chat with friends about their projects. The variety was superb and we really enjoyed seeing the Greece project set up by my very inspiring friend (you can follow her on Instagram here) the flight project by another friend as well as the ‘Viking poo’ stand and the Mayan stand. We loved the stop-motion animation of the Battle of Hastings and it’s something I definitely want to look into doing with my three when they’re a touch older. It was a superb and really ingenious way to bring the topic to life.

Stephensons ROcket history fair display

I’d roped my dad in to do some ‘judging’ and he went around to talk to each family about their projects, and at the end said a few words about each of them and each family were given a certificate to say they’d taken part in the day.

Our project also saw us look at diesel and electric trains as well as the Maglev and D has remembered so any facts and figures about them all. I think, in the end, both he and E enjoyed this and they certainly did enjoy the fair itself.

The next event we have in the diary is a STEM fair, and we are planning to do something on electricity for this; so if anyone has some good book suggestions for me to look into then please let me know and I’ll be spending the next week or two thinking about how we might approach this. I always feel a bit overwhelmed by the size of a topic but this one really has D and E excited so I think we will start early and run with it and see just how far we take it.



  1. Pat
    31st January 2018 / 21:02

    It was fabulous. I loved seeing the different approaches from the families. Everyone had worked so hard.

  2. 3rd February 2018 / 09:37

    it was better than good – and very impressive

Let me know your thoughts with a comment below

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.