Primary – History Activities Based on the Titanic Disaster

Activity One – Famous People
Year 3 to Year 6

The Titanic was THE ship of the day to be seen on. Because of that, many famous people were on board, many of whom drowned. Those that were on board came from important areas of life and it was thought that there might be a recession because of the loss of people who were important to the economy of Britain and the United States, but how important were the people?

This activity allows children to find out more about the famous people who were on board and gives them the story behind the names.

Find out who these passengers were and why they were important:

John Jacob Astor
Benjamin Guggenheim
Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff Gordon
Molly Brown
Isador and Ida Strauss

Several other passengers have interesting stories despite not being rich. Find out what you can about their last moments on the Titanic.

Activity Two – Could the Disaster Have Been Prevented?
Year 3 to Year 6

Many children as ‘what if’ questions about aspects of our teaching and it’s something I try to encourage as it helps them to think around an issue and get a deeper understanding of their learning. There are many ‘What if’ questions that can be asked about the Titanic as well as some ‘Why’ questions. Use some of the following to spark off a debate as to whether the outcome might have been different.

What would have happened if people hadn’t followed the ‘women and children first’ rule?
Why was the ship travelling at nearly full speed through an area it was told was full of icebergs?
The Titanic sank in April, would the story have been any different if the ship had sailed a month later or two months later?
Why did the captain not ask people to abandon ship earlier?
Would more people have survived if he had?

Any one of these can spark a lot of interesting debate based on the facts.

Activity Three – What Else Happened in 1912?
Year 2 to Year 6

I like to put events in the context of history and in 1912 we were already beginning to see the tensions that would lead to the Great War whilst in Britain, certainly, heads were buried in sand in terms of political reform and the world stage.

The key events we used was the change in the actions of the suffragettes to violent protest in an effort to secure the vote and the news that had just filtered through of Amundsen’s successful attempt to reach the South Pole and the news of the deaths of Captain Scott’s team.

Use the information on events in the months of 1912 to produce a newspaper, not just of the Titanic but also of the events around the time. The Wikipedia page has many events listed from the serious to the interesting. In this way children can see that a newspaper doesn’t just deal with one story but a series that take place synchronously. An alternative is to produce a series of newspaper reports on the story of the Titanic from the days of its launch to the day the survivors landed in New York. In this way the children get to see how the story builds from pride and hope to disaster.

Dave Lewis
Primary Teacher

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