York Castle Museum Workshops
Home to Kirkgate, the world-famous recreated Victorian Street, York Castle Museum is the perfect venue to explore and understand how people have lived over the past 400 years.
It’s home to two fashion exhibitions: A Personal Collection of Vivienne Westwood Shoes and Shaping the Body: 400 Years of Fashion, Food and Life (which opened in March 2016).
There are also Period Rooms, the Toy Stories exhibition, a groovy Sixties Gallery and the interactive Prison Experience. It is the perfect venue to explore and understand how people have lived over the past 300 years.
Primary Schools Workshop Programme
Workshops have been created by teachers and are based on the National Curriculum covering history from medieval castles to the swinging sixties, as well as Science and Art.
We offer interactive and informative workshops for Early Years (EYs) Foundation Stage, Key Stage One and Key Stage Two pupils.
All our sessions are delivered by experienced learning staff and include special opportunities for pupils to handle real museum artefacts from our collections.
Each workshop is for a maximum of 30 pupils, unless otherwise stated. Each workshop has its own risk assessment which can be downloaded in PDF form.
To book a visit, please click here to complete a booking form and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can contact our Group Bookings department on 01904 687633 for further information (Monday – Friday).
Prices depend on the length of the workshop, there is no minimum number of pupils required. Workshops have a maximum of 30 pupils.
1 hour workshop – £60
1 hour 30 minutes workshop – £70
2 hour workshop – £80 (prices vary during Special Weeks, see below)
Actor Led Workshops – prices vary
We require a minimum of two full working days’ notice of cancellations for sessions not to be charged in full.
If you are running late on the day we ask that you call 01904 687633 to let us know your expected arrival time and if
your group are 30 minutes late for your booked workshop/s you will be charged £30.00 (per 30 minutes) to cover our costs.
Click here to download the teachers’ guide
Knights at the Castle – EYs Foundation Stage
In this hands-on workshop pupils will discover what life was like in York Castle hundreds of years ago. Activities include looking at the remains of the castle, trying on replica helmets, feeling the weight of chain mail, smelling the smells of the castle and making a cardboard helmet and shield to take home.
Please note that this is adapted from the KS1 workshop ‘Castle Life’ to fit the EYFS curriculum.
Rowntree and Poverty in York – KS2 – 1 hour
Meet an information collector for the Rowntree Poverty Report and help them in their task of finding out what it means to be poor in Victorian York. Pupils will handle original objects from the collection before finding out about Seebohm Rowntree, his faith and why he wanted to help those in need. They will then explore Kirkgate, our Victorian Street, to gather the evidence they need to help complete the report which became a huge part of York’s local history.
Rowntree and the Chocolate Factory – KS2 – 1 hour
It’s the 1930s and the Rowntree chocolate factory is looking for new staff. The factory supervisor will tell you of the Rowntree family and of life at the factory before putting you through your paces using replicas of the original tests used on prospective employees. Pupils will have to sort colours, fit shapes, show a steady hand, tie bows and pack replica chocolates to prove they have what it takes. A great workshop to link with our local history.
Dick Turpin: Hero or Villain? – KS2 – 1 hour 30 minutes
Pupils will be investigate written sources and discuss how an author persuades the reader to think of a character as hero or villain. They will visit the re-created prison and find out what life was like for a convicted felon such as Dick Turpin and finish by planning and creating two newspaper reports – one showing Turpin as a hero and one as a villain.
British History Beyond 1066
Queen Victoria’s Empire – KS1 and KS2
Find out about the 1851 Great Exhibition and discover inventions from across Queen Victoria’s Empire. Activities include creating individual printed silhouettes to take back to school, investigating mystery objects and exploring Kirkgate. KS2 pupils will also have the opportunity to examine Victorian coins from across the Empire.
Victorian Classroom – KS1 and KS2 – 1 hour
Pupils will discover what it felt like to go to school in Victorian times and might be glad to get back to your classroom after an hour with our Victorian school teacher! During the lesson, set in our Victorian schoolroom, pupils will use the abacus and try some simple arithmetic, practise their handwriting, apply their reading skills and take part in drill to help them feel fully immersed in Victorian childhood.
Troubled Times in Victorian York – KS2 – 1 hour
Led by an Actor, £100 per session
Our Victorian street, Kirkgate, is always full of characters, but none as colourful as Joseph Beedham – street trader and loveable rogue. Pupils take a tour of Kirkgate with Joseph, but when he is arrested for theft, they become his judge and jury and help to decide his fate. Will Joseph be found guilty or innocent? A great addition to your PSHE curriculum!
Crime and Punishment – KS2 – 1 hour
Learn what a grim place York Prison could be by hearing the story of a real felon imprisoned here as told by his brother or sister. Handle original objects used in the prison over its last hundred years, look at prison diets throughout history and even carry out a prisoner’s daily exercise. This workshop is a great starting point for studying crime and punishment through time.
Swinging Sixties – KS2 – 1 hour 30 mins
Swing on down to the Castle Museum and explore the decade when the cars and the skirts were mini! Pupils visit our Sixties gallery where they will compare the fifties and sixties by trying on costume, listening to music, exploring lifestyle changes, and even ‘launching’ a space rocket! This session uses real artefacts and archive footage to set the decade in its post war context; giving pupils an appreciation of just how much Britain had changed by the end of the 1960s. This workshop is a great starting point for looking at leisure and entertainment in the 20th Century.
Continuity and Change
The Shops and Streets of York – KS2
Kirkgate, our Victorian Street, houses reproductions of many shops that could have been found in York in Victorian times. Using replica and original objects, maps, census returns and other written evidence, pupils will find out more about some of the shops and the people who would have used them.
** This workshop also comes with a map of present day York along with details of where the shops studied could have been found in order to form a comparison of the areas then and now. This is a self-led task that can be carried out after the workshop.
Hidden York – KS2
This walking tour takes pupils around York spotting signs, remains and details often overlooked, giving a rounded view of how York has changed through the centuries. The workshop ends at the Castle Museum with an object handling session of everyday items through time.
Changes within Living Memory
Toys through Time – EYs Foundation Stage and KS1
Pupils take a peep into our old toy chest to discover toys from the past. Through hands-on exploration they are encouraged to discuss the similarities and differences between toys, how they work, and the materials from which they are made.
Wash Day – EYs Foundation Stage and KS1
Using original possers, dolly pegs and tubs, pupils are set to work for a taste of Victorian domestic life helping Dolly White with the weekly wash. They also have the opportunity to distinguish wash day objects from the past and present and decide what Dolly’s mystery objects were used for.
Significant Historical Places
Castle Life – KS1
York Castle Museum is built on the site of a medieval castle and in this workshop different aspects of life there are explored: the home, the defensive fortress and the religious space. Pupils can try on medieval-style helmets as well as handle original objects from the museum’s collections such as pottery, arrow heads, coins and stained glass. For brave pupils there is a chance to try and identify various castle smells!
Please note that this is adapted from the EYFS workshop ‘Knights at the Castle’ to fit the KS1 curriculum
Tours and Object Handling
We also offer tours and object handling for school groups based around the following themes:
KS3/4 Victorian School Lesson
KS3/4 Tour of Kirkgate
KS3/4 Prison Tour and Object Handling
KS3/4 offers are for a maximum of 18 students at a time and cost £45 per session. Please click here for further details.
Don’t forget to check out the wide variety of trails available to download from our website too.
NEW! Workshops for English Language Learners
Two workshops are now available for ESOL students, both based on Victorian shopping:
Kirkgate, our Victorian Street, houses reproductions of many shops that could have been found in York in Victorian times. Using replica and original objects, students will practice and develop their vocabulary before creating their own role plays based on the interactions between customers and shopkeepers.
Kirkgate, our Victorian Street, houses reproductions of many shops that could have been found in York in Victorian times. Using replica and original objects, maps, census returns and other written evidence, students will find out more about some of the shops and the people who would have used them.
Workshops are suitable for up to 15 students. Each workshop takes 1 hour 30 minutes and costs £70. Please see below for information on how to book.
Residential Booked Groups
We suggest the following workshops for those groups on a residential visit to York Castle Museum – please click here.
Students with Additional Needs
We offer two workshops designed specifically for groups of students with additional needs – please click here for more information.
Home Educated Children
We can adapt many of our workshops to suit groups of home educated children. Please contact us to discuss your requirements and we’ll try to organise something to suit.
Booking a Visit
You can contact our Group Bookings department on 01904 687633 for further information (Monday – Friday).
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