Industrial Revolution, Child Labor - A Dramatic Play

Industrial Revolution, Child Labor - A Dramatic Play
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This is a useful and dramatic enhancement to any lesson about child labor.

In my classroom, I have used this to introduce some of the negative outcomes of the Industrial Revolution.

Before the class begins I choose a student to represent Elizabeth Bentley. I prep that student and off we go. Once the students are settled, we begin the skit. It is for two people (the student and me). However, it is powerful and based on an actual trial from history.

If you are looking to enhance your lesson on the evils of child labor, this will help.

After the skit is finished I allow some time to debrief. I let the students ask questions. Here are some of the questions they ask or I ask them from this skit:

-What is a flax mill?
-What do you mean "hunchback"?
-Can you explain again what a "doffer" is?
-What was the typical day like for Elizabeth?
-What is a "poor house"?
-What do you think her future will be like?
-How old is she again? When did she begin working? What do you think about this?
-Compare Elizabeth's life with yours, what's the difference?
-Do you think Elizabeth has hope? Explain...

You can take however long you like with this. Usually for me it is about 20 minutes, so it is a great way to begin looking at the topic of child labor in general.

You may go any direction in your lesson after this. For me, I use this when we begin looking at the "costs" of the Industrial Revolution.
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