This activity is set up as a combination between a creative writing activity and a role play. By choosing a character randomly, students are asked to create a name, family history, and personality that would be historically accurate in England around 1750 by writing a diary entry from the viewpoint of their character. Each time they write another entry, they react to events that have happened to them. In so doing, the students "experience" the ups and downs of life in early industrial England, and must consider how they would have felt, reacted, and understood the changes that were happening all around them.
After using this activity for about 5 years in my classroom, I can honestly say that this is one of the best activities I've ever created as a teacher. I'm confident that you will be able to use it, modify it, and probably improve upon it by adding your own twists and turns.