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Education Service

Pre-Visit and Post-Visit Ideas

Teachers may like to prepare for their visit to the Museum. Here are some ideas for pre-visit and post-visit activities which you can download / view as a PDF.

Investigating uniforms

Pre-visit activity

3 mins Introduce session

Tell young people that you are going to visit the Museum where you will be able to look at uniforms and design a uniform for fire fighters either in the past or now. In preparation for that visit you want to explore what they know about uniforms.
8 mins Activity

In pairs ask them to list all the people they can think of who wear uniforms, including

themselves if they wear a uniform for school or a youth group.
12 mins Gather feedback
20 mins Now ask if can they think about why these people wear uniforms and gather feedback.

To identify a group

A common job

A common purpose


To create a bond

To create an identity

23 mins What do the groups they have identified have in common? Ask young people to

consider and feed back.

A bond

An identity

A common goal
25 mins Examine

What are the differences? Ask young people to consider these and feed back.

Different age groups

Different purposes
35 mins Activity

Look at different uniforms (could be interactive or get teachers to get pics)

Who would wear this uniform?

Match uniforms to a profession or group

40 mins Discuss



55 mins Activities

Create a new school uniform.

Create a new uniform for a club the young people attend or support.
60 mins Plenary

Look at the designs and gather feedback.

Post-visit activity

Look at materials. What are the main practical issues that someone designing a fire fighters uniform would have to consider? What sorts of conditions do fire fighters face (heat, cold, wet, chemicals, road traffic collisions, special events)? Young people might say heat and fire but fire fighters say the main problem is cold. Often if they are putting out a fire they can get wet and then very cold.

Carry out tests on different materials to see if they are waterproof. Use a jam jar, place a piece of material over the top of the jam jar and seal it using an elastic band. Pour water onto each different material to see which is the most resistant to water.

Can the young people think of other professions where they might need special uniforms: all of the rescue services – coastguard, cave rescue, fire service, police, ambulance, mountain rescue. What might their needs be? Young people may discuss special requirements for the other emergency services and design uniforms for them.

The Great Fire of London

Pre-visit activity

5 mins Introduction

This session at the Museum explores the consequences of the Great Fire of London and leads to creative work based on Fire Marks. To prepare for this visit explain the history of the Great Fire of London. (Use the Great Fire of London section in the research section of this website).
15 mins

Descriptive writing

Samuel Pepys wro te about the Great Fire of London in his diary. Discuss diaries, whether children keep diaries, what sorts of things we might record in diary.

Read an excerpt from the diary (available via the Internet). The language is very different from how we speak t oday. Discuss any difficult phrases. This is a first hand account. It is not a news report but a diary entry, so a personal account. What do they notice about the diary entry? What had Pepys put in his diary, what has he chosen to leave out?

Gather feedback

Does this diary entry give an accurate impression of the fire?

Can the young people imagine what it might have been like to observe the fire?

Can they list adjectives to describe how they might feel and what they might see?

What the City may have been l ike at the time what would it have been like to live there?

How close together were the buildings?

What were the buildings made of?

How was fuel stored?

What would it have felt like to see the fire or to be near the fire?

35 mins Activity

Ask the young people to write their own diary entry about the fire.
50 mins Plenary

Gather feedback
OR 35 mins Activity

Now ask the young people to imagine they are the King. What would they do to make sure that a fire of this scale could never happen again.
50 mins Plenary

Gather together the best ideas to write a Fire Prevention Plan for the City of London in 1667.
55 mins Summaries
60 mins End

Post-visit activity

Create a Fire Prevention Plan for the classroom or school. This will undoubtedly exist but ask young people what sorts of risks they need to be aware of. Compare it to the schools actual document.

Victorian Fire Station - Emergency 999

Pre-visit activity


This session at the Museum examines how the public called out the fire brigade in Victorian Times. It then leads on to looking at modern day communication and the problem with hoax calls. This session will complement any work on the Victorians. Here is an idea for a specific activity focusing on communication. The Museum has a Victorian Fire station.

5 mins Introduction

In Victoria times there were no phones, certainly no mobile phones. Ask young people to think about how they would get an urgent message to someone at the other side of town without using mobile phones.
10 mins Plenary

Feedback an ideas
20 mins Activity

Divide the class into an even number of small groups. Give them the task of communicating a message without using their voices, writing or pictures.

Give each group a message to pass on to the next group.

Give them time to think about how they will communicate their message in their group.

Then give the groups time to pass on their messages one at a time.

Each group will receive points for the accuracy of the message and for remembering the group that gave it to them.
50 mins Plenary

What were the main issues?

Which method worked well?

Which could have been improved?

How could they improve communication?

How did the young people feel the session went?
60 mins End

The Blitz

This session uses artefacts to bring the Blitz to life. It then leads onto creative writing based on the artefacts.

Pre-visit activity

This session will enhance any study of the Second World War. It focuses on artefacts which young people will be allowed to handle such as ration books, gas masks, armbands, helmets, identification cards, black out torches.

General preparation about the Second World War will help to provide a context for this visit. It may also be helpful to discuss in detail your expectations of this session with the volunteers, sharing your approach to the theme of the Second World War.

A useful pre-visit activity would be to research what happened in the local area during the war. How was the community the young people live in affected? Do they or their parents/carers know of anyone who lived through the war who could tell them what it was like? There are a number of websites that young people could look at to get information. (

Post-visit activity

Ask young people to think about their visit and imagine what it might have been like to be an auxiliary fire fighter in Manchester at the time of the war and what it is like to be a fire fighter now. What are the differences? What dangers did fire fighters face during the war and how are these dangers different to the dangers faced by fire fighters today. Ask young people to design recruitment posters for auxiliary fire fighters during the war and for modern fire fighters today.

Investigative journalism

The Museum has an archive which contains a number of newspaper stories from different eras. This activity introduces young people to newspaper stories from Victorian times, the Second World War and the 1960s. Young people can compare the different writing styles from the different eras. They can also explore similarities and differences between today’s news stories and stories from the past.

Often family members of fire fighters will bring newspaper articles to the museum. Young people can examine some of these articles and see what they can find out about different fire fighters.

Pre-visit activity

Look at a variety of newspapers including local newspapers. Look at similarities and differences. Look at the language. Look out for the headlines, the five Ws and any common features in stories such as witness statements or expert statements.

Post-visit activity

Run the class as a newspaper office for the day, giving young people the role of journalist, editor, photographer, designer, producer etc.

Create an email newsletter for the school.

Whistlestop science

The Museum has a wide range of artefacts that have been used by fire fighters over a period of several hundred years. Scientific development can be seen through a number of artefacts from the manual water pumps to fire extinguishers to breathing apparatus. Young people have the opportunity to examine this equipment and explore the science behind it. Teachers can choose which equipment they would like to explore in detail, depending on the science they are teaching.

  • Breathing equipment
  • Extinguishers
  • Manual fire pumps
  • Motor fire appliances
  • Sprinklers
  • Wheeled escapes and hose carts

The equipment can illustrate different parts of the science curriculum such as life forces, pushes and pulls, life and living processes etc. (interactive put equipment in date order)


Safety is a huge theme in fire fighting and it can be divided into a number of areas:

  • Personal safety (individuals and fire fighters)
  • Equipment and technology for the home
  • Equipment and technology for the fire service

This session looks at how to keep safe and how to write a fire escape plan. It also examines how fire fighters keep safe and how technology has developed to help them deal with the hazards they face on a daily basis.

This session will complement any activity on keeping safe including people who help us, PHSE, etc. It will be particularly relevant following a talk from the fire service in school.


The themes associated with the fire service provide a number of opportunities for creative work, from creating posters to keep children safe around the times of religious festivals through to artwork to evoke feelings around historical events such as the Great Fire of London or the Blitz. This activity would be seen as a starter and could be carried on back in the classroom.

Alfred Tozer

Alfred Tozer - The chief of a model brigade – a chat with Superintendent Tozer 1886.

This activity focuses on a Sunday Supplement article about the life of Superintendent Tozer who lived at the Chief Fire Station, Jackson’s Row in Manchester. The article is fascinating, providing an insight into the character of the man and the day-to-day life of a fire fighter in Victorian times.

Preparatory activities for investigative journalism could be used to prepare for this session or research using this website and the Internet in general. There is a wealth of information on Alfred Tozer. Ask young people to find out as much as they can about the man and his contribution to the fire service.


London Road Fire Station was home to the families of fire fighters. This activity explores what it might have been like to live in the fire station by examining the toys and belongings of some of the children who lived there.

Pre-visit activity

Research the London Road Fire Station. There is a lot of information about the fire station in the public domain. In the last ten years there have been a number of plans submitted to redevelop the site.

Post-visit activity

If young people created drawings of toys, ask them to make the toys in the classroom. Most of the toys made for the Beatrice and Anna had a fire theme. How are their toys different from the toys children have today.

Acts of bravery

The Museum archive contains stories of heroic acts. This session allows young people to explore the theme of heroes and heroines.

Pre-visit activity

Ask the young people about their modern day heroes and heroines. Who are they, why do the young people look up to these people, what have they achieved? What qualities have they displayed? Ask the young people how they feel about these qualities, why are they important? Ask the young people to write a small pen portrait of their hero/heroine.

Post visit activity

Ask the young people to think about every day heroes and heroines. What makes someone a hero and heroine in everyday life? This could focus on people who help us, police, fire service, carers, medical staff, emergency services or just people that the young people know who have displayed good qualities/characteristics. Ask the the young people to write a pen portrait about their everyday hero/heroine and compare it to their first pen portrait.

For secondary schools

The Museum is a great venue for live projects. It is particularly suitable for young people studying diplomas of vocational courses in IT or Creative and Media. Tailored sessions can be provided for students.

For these sessions it is important for students to carry out their own preliminary research to find out as much information as they can about the Museum to prepare them for their visit and their brief. Students can look at the website, look at the Museum’s flyer and find out about different types of museums, their audience, their systems etc.


We are very interested to hear your views on the museum and your visit. There are evaluation forms for teachers and young people to complete. Please email these to us when you have completed them.

In addition to the activities above, the site contains an information section which young people can use to carry out their own research before a visit to the Museum.

The research section is divided into the following:

Uniforms, The History of Fire Fighting (including the Great Fire of London), The Blitz, Breathing apparatus, Extinguishers, Fire marks, Manual fire pumps, Motor fire appliances, Sprinklers, Steam fire engines, Wheeled escapes and hose carts, London Road Fire Station

You can visit the research section here or click a link above to be taken directly to the selected category on the research page.