Adventures through time – The 1920s

February 15, 2021

This week’s theme:

Adventures through time – The 1920s

 

This week’s colouring in sheet:

Download and print this week’s colouring sheet here.

 

Fact of the week:

The ‘Roaring’ 1920s were one hundred years ago and life was different back then.

 

Activities for the week…

 

Activity 1

The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) was founded in 1922 to provide a radio service across the nation.

Pretend to be a radio presenter: Everyone takes a turn in introducing one other person on Zoom. Try interviewing each other for a radio show – what questions could you ask to create good dialogue? Use whatever is available to act as a microphone…something circular would fit with the style at the time. Try to use an old fashioned, ‘posh’ clipped BBC voice; try doing some ‘How Now Brown Cow’ pronunciation to practice!

 

Activity 2

The Charleston was composed to accompany the Charleston dance. Try doing some of the movements, you could do the foot movements with your hands and arms too. Lots of fun arm movements here.

The Charleston is a fun, cheeky dance. Look at the upper body and facial expressions at 1:50 here. Can you recreate cheeky facial expressions?

The Great Gatsby was a book written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1925. The book featured socialites, flappers (women who flaunted their disdain for what was then considered acceptable behaviour), glamour, and the glitz of the 1920s era. Recreate the razzle dazzle of a 1920s party… Dress to the nines in some bling, pearl beads, or fringing and try out your new Charleston moves! Pour yourself a water cocktail, and party like a flapper to this or this music.

 

Activity 3

The famous and popular classical piece, ‘The Lark Ascending’ was composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams and was first performed in 1920/1921. The Lark Ascending was inspired by a poem of the same name written by George Meredith, which tells the tale of a skylark singing an impossibly beautiful, almost heavenly, song.

The composition is a ‘pastoral’ one – i.e. one about the British countryside – you can imagine the birds ascending through the sky. Soar your body, face, arms, and hands with the swell of the music. What animals can you visualise in the countryside – act out them appearing and moving in the scene, birds soaring in the sky.

What instruments can you hear – mime playing them.

The piece is contemplative slow music – what do you think about, feel, or see when you hear the music. Is classical music like this upsetting or relaxing? Listening to it has been described as the feeling of waking up on a beautiful new morning and rising out of bed – act out how that may feel.

Could you do a mindfulness activity with this music, such as mindful drawing?

Create some skylark art work like this or this or this or this.

 

Activity 4

‘Show Boat’ is a musical from the late 1920s, it follows the lives of the performers, stagehands and dock workers on the ‘Cotton Blossom’, a Mississippi River show boat.

Make a river boat by making the actions and sounds of the paddleboat wheels spinning, and the steam puttering. You could even try your best ‘Proud Mary’ dance actions and Roll of the River with Tina Turner!

Listen to one of the songs from the musical, – Ol’ Man River (this version is from the later film). Come up with actions for the lyrics:

There’s an old man called the Mississippi. That’s the old man I don’t like to be!

What does he care if the world’s got troubles? What does he care if the land ain’t free?

Old man river, That old man river

He must know sumpin’. But don’t say nuthin’,

He just keeps rollin’. He keeps on rollin’ along.

He don’t plant taters, He don’t plant cotton,

And them that plants ’em Is soon forgotten,

But old man river, He just keeps rollin’ along.

You and me, we sweat and strain, Body all achin’ and racked with pain,

Tote that barge! And lift that bale!

Get a little drunk And you lands in jail

But I keeps laughin’. Instead of cryin’

I must keep fightin’. Until I’m dyin’

And old man river, He just keeps rollin’ along

 

Activity 5

The films from this era were mostly silent movies, featuring actors such as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Mary Pickford, Clara Bow, & Laurel and Hardy.

Practice dressing up as, and walking like Charlie Chaplin.

The dialogue, or change of location/time in silent films that could not be communicated by actors was put on-screen via screen cards (see the “Open the Door” card (around 1:32) in this Chaplin scene). Create a series of screen cards and act out what happens after the written dialogue.

Since there was no talking, music was often used to show the drama (see this early silent film, to hear the music). Make music of your own to accompany dramatic scenes.

 

Activity 6

The 1920s was called the ‘Jazz age’.  Try some improvisation, jazz style, along to this Louis Armstrong track – pick a trumpet, trombone, clarinet, banjo, drums and to make the sound of and improvise along.

You could so the same to some Bessie Smith songs like this one. Bessie was nicknamed the “Empress of the Blues”, she was the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s; imagine you were in this 1920s bar with her.

 

Activity 7

The 1920s was the start of the Art Deco Era.

Make some poses of art deco figurines like these. Many of the figurines involve fans, balls and globes too – see what you can find in your house to recreate the poses. Put these poses to music from the era (such as this radio show from the 1920s).

Use your body to make the angles, arches and fans of the geometric Art Deco designs.

Lots of seaside resorts feature architecture and art work from the Art Deco period of the 1920s. If you’re interested, you could watch this BBC Iplayer documentary called ‘Art Deco by the sea’. Famously, lots of wonderful advertising posters were made for British seaside resorts. Create an advertisement poster of your own featuring your favourite seaside resort, to entice people to visit it!

 

Activity 8

‘Bauhaus’ was an art and design movement in Germany, famous artist such as Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky worked at the Bauhaus during the 1920s.

Paul Klee once said, “Drawing is taking a line for a walk”. Make a drawing that starts from one end of the paper and slowly and deliberately makes its way on a journey, a walk, across the page. Your line could be in any style organic; geometric; whatever reflects your mood in the moment.

Try talking a line for a walk in the air in front of you using your hand or finger. Where will the walk take you to?

 

Activity 9

The Queen was born in Mayfair, London on 21st April 1926, making her 94 years old, and around at the time of all of this history. Make some regal crowns and tiaras to celebrate her birth, and practice your best regal waves.

 

Activity 10

The stadium at Wembley was built in 300 days, completed at speed in readiness for the 1923 FA cup final between Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United.

That match was known as the ‘White Horse Final’ as Billy, a white horse had to be brought on to the pitch to deal with the overcrowding of the spectators. It was thought that the match would not be played because of the number of spectators inside the stadium that had spilled onto the pitch. That was until mounted police, including Police Constable George Scorey and his white horse, Billy, slowly pushed the crowds back to the sides of the field of play for the FA Cup Final to start.

Act out how to Trot, neigh and control a crowd like Billy.

West Ham United’s song is ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’ – sing it as a group with floating bubbly motions. Or, learn the BSL signs for the song.

Or, you could come up with footballing actions to act out. Pause the song, call out an action and get people to pose as: scoring a goal, goal celebration, saving a goal, taking a penalty, referee blowing a whistle, winning, losing, header, being given the red card, etc.

 

Activity 11

Try saying some 1920s slang in your best ‘posh’/clipped 1920s accents, and acting out situations when it might be used:

‘And how!’ – agreeing with what somebody has just said, enthusiastically/ use instead of “indeed” – e.g. Voice 1: “This bread is delicious”. Voice 2: “And how!”

“Putting on the Ritz” – to dress fancily or fashionably. Ritzy = fancy, lavish, or elegant.

“Ragamuffin” – somebody who looks bedraggled, messy or dirty (like Chaplain’s ‘The Little Tramp’)

“Wet Blanket” – someone who’s a killjoy/buzzkill, who would ruin a good party. The word “Fire” in the 1920s meant something fun and energetic. To throw a wet blanket over the fire would put out the fun.

“Whoopee” – ‘Making whoopee’ is having a really good time.

“Fried” or “Smoked” or “Zozzled” – to be drunk.

“Cheaters” – reading glasses

“Having the Heebie Jeebies” – shaking from fear, or the unknown – like when watched a horror film from the 1920s (Try scatting along with Louis Armstrong in a song of the same name).

 

Activity 12

The first edition of the Radio Times was in September 1923! Design a front cover for the Radio Times, decorated using things that you’ve learned about today from the 1920s.

 

Why not take a photo of any of the activities you’ve tried this week and share it with us? You can share it on our FacebookInstagram or Twitter or send it to melanie@purplepatcharts.org and we’ll put it online for you!