Activity: The Industrial Revolution in Britain and Southern Africa from 1860

Discussion topics

  • What combination of advantages allowed Britain to experience industrialization first?
  • What differences between the Western and non-Western worlds may have led to the industrial revolution emerging first in the former?
  • Explain the interrelationship between growing markets, inventors, and entrepreneurs
  • How did steam engines transform the way factories functioned?
  • Which group gained most from Britain's newfound prosperity? How did its social situation change?
  • What effect did the railroads have on the Industrial Revolution as well as on the landscape?
  • In industrializing Britain, what was life like for ordinary people? In the factories?
  • What types of organizations did workers organize throughout this period of industrialization?
  • What factors were responsible for the growth of towns and cities in Europe between 1780 and 1850?
  • What social problems were emerging in these expanding cities and why was this so?

Source: McGraw Hill, (2001), “Factories, Cities and Families in the Industrial Age” from McGraw Hill [online] Available at [Accessed: 9 March 2015]

For the teachers: possible class activities


  • Start the lesson with the students coming up with their own inventions. Have them draw it and explain what problem it solves or how it makes life easier.
  • Have students create an advertisement for one of the inventions as it might have appeared in a print publication, web page, or television ad of the day.
  • As a class discussion and lesson, have each student hypothesize what would have happened without a certain inventor by “subtracting” from the classroom, describing of things we use today traced back to the Industrial Revolution


  • Tell learners to create a mind map after every lesson which will also help then to remember the work they did as well as to remember it.


  • Let learners perform a re- enactment of any aspect of the Industrial Revolution that interests them.
  • Or Role play/ conduct an interview with a fellow learner who represents someone from that time period


  • Have the form groups and create timelines of different inventions/ occurrences
  • Alternatively, have them make calendars of s specific time period during the Industrial Revolution. 


  • Ask learners to create a scale model of any invention made during the Industrial revolution
  • Also have them describe how this invention has changed sine its invention


  • Host a debate regarding the positive and negative effects of the Industrial Revolution


Create a word search puzzle or a crossword puzzle for:

  • The inventors/ inventions of the Industrial Revolution


  • Let learners create a poster where they depict how the domestic situation was changed after the Industrial revolution
  • Alternatively, have learners draw or create a scale model of how society used to look vs. How the society looks after the Industrial Revolution


  • Play a trivia game with learners where they can be rewarded with points
  • Who Wants To Be A Millionaire; Hangman, etc.


  • Create a comprehension from a documentary they have watched/ will watch


Source: Teachers First, (2004), “Ideas of the Industrial Revolution” from Teachers First [online] Available at [Accessed: 9 March 2015].

Handouts and activities


Word search

Crossword puzzle:

Resource links

Background of industrialization

Brief history of south african minerals