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Scottish Samplers

Episode:35Te Papa Collection:History

Suggested curriculum levels:3 – 6

Curriculum connections:English: Listening, Reading, and Viewing, The Arts: Understanding the Arts in Context Developing Ideas, Social Sciences: Identity, Culture, and Organisation Continuity and Change

Description:For our grandmothers, sentences were not the only things being stitched together in school. Girls had to learn a whole range of embroidery, and the best way was by making samplers.

Questions for students

  1. Note some of the topic-specific words in this Tale, such as 'sampler', 'embroidery' and 'motif'. Look up their meanings and consider how many of them are still used today. The presenter says, 'Some girls would go into royal or aristocratic service.' What do you think this means?
  2. The lives and careers of girls have changed a lot since the 1880s when these samplers were made. Think about the skills needed by girls then and now. Use the 'Then and now' response template to record some of these changes.
  3. What ideas do these samplers give you about ways you could record your family tree? Use the 'Ideas' response template to explore some possibilities that would make your craft work relevant to today's materials and interests. What would future generations learn from your 'sampler'?
  4. Many cultures have ways of recording family trees or ancestry. Why do people do this? Research at least one other culture and compare the ways in which families or wider connected groups pass on information about ancestors from one generation to the next.
  5. Embroidery, or decorating with needlework, is a very old craft. Other than its use in samplers, how has embroidery been used in different cultures and with different materials? What examples of modern embroidery materials and purposes can you find?

Related templates:

Then and now