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Box of Delights: One Potato Two Potato (1957)
In the Classroom

Some suggestions on how to use this title in the classroom and where it fits in to the curriculum.


QCA History Unit 13: How has life in Britain changed since 1948? (Year 5/6)

This film can be used as a primary source of information for children exploring how the way children play and spend their leisure time has changed since 1948 to support Section 4: THE ENQUIRY STAGE 1: What are the changes in work, home life, popular culture, population and technology in Britain since 1948? When did these changes happen?

Watch the complete film of One Potato, Two Potato (depending on the nature of your class, you may want to watch it in two ten minute sessions). List the games that the children play in the film and the places where we saw children playing. Talk about when you think different sequences were filmed (weekends, after school?)

At school

Give a group a video camera and ask them to film all the activities that children at their school do at playtime and lunch time, in and out of doors. Compare the ways children play nowadays to how they were played in the school playground in 1957. How many games in One Potato, Two Potato still survive today? Do a survey of the teachers at your school and ask them to list some of the games they played when they were at school. Children should reflect on their own experiences and use the information from the teachers' survey to help pinpoint when changes happened.

Out of school

Ask the children to think about the things they do after school, do they play with their friends in parks or in the street? If so, compare the games they play with those shown in the film, if not talk about why and take this opportunity to talk about safety issues.

Reflect on some of the things we saw children doing in the streets on the film (shimmying up lampposts, play fighting and running rulers along railings). Talk about people's attitudes towards young people playing out nowadays; reflect on how young people are presented in the media. Talk about what anti-social behaviour is and have a discussion about whether children should play out or not.

Curriculum links

  • NC History objectives: 1a, 1b, 2a, 4a, 4b, 5c, 11b
  • NC Citizenship objectives: 2a, 2k, 4e

A note about History at Key Stage 1

QCA Unit 1: How are our toys different from those in the past? (Year 1)

Although One Potato, Two Potato is recommended for children 7+, the two extracts of the film provide useful resources for this Year 1 history unit. Children in Year 5/6 working with the film could visit Year 1 classes to introduce the extracts and tell the younger children about what they have learned about toys and games from the past.