The original mail-order catalogues linked to this site are rich graphic and text resources that can support many activities related to this Webquest and its specific curriculum links, as well as other aspects of Social Studies, History, Geography, English Language Arts, Core French, English as a Second Language, Art, and Drama. By doing these extension activities, your students will gain valuable experience and skills in performing primary source research and internet-based research, as well as in analyzing and synthesizing information.

Most of the activities that follow require the web-based catalogue pages only, while some require a Sears and other contemporary catalogues that your students bring in.

We hope that you will perform some of these activities with your students and then think of other ways to make use of these valuable resources.
The original mail-order catalogues linked to this site are rich graphic and text resources that can support many activities related to this Webquest and its specific curriculum links, as well as other aspects of Social Studies, History, Geography, English Language Arts, Core French, English as a Second Language, Art, and Drama. By doing these extension activities, your students will gain valuable experience and skills in performing primary source research and internet-based research, as well as in analyzing and synthesizing information.

Most of the activities that follow require the web-based catalogue pages only, while some require a Sears and other contemporary catalogues that your students bring in.

We hope that you will perform some of these activities with your students and then think of other ways to make use of these valuable resources.

© Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation

Subjects
Social Studies, Art

Themes
Change, Technological Change

Resources Mail-order Houses, by Les Henry Catalogues (links below) House plans (links below) Current Sears catalogue (optional) to be brought in

Description Assign a different catalogue to each group of students.
Suggested catalogues are the:
  Eaton’s Spring and Summer 1936 Catalogue Nerlich Fall and Holiday 1939-1940 catalogue Simpson’s Spring and Summer 1945 catalogue Read More

Subjects
Social Studies, Art

Themes
Change, Technological Change

Resources

  • Mail-order Houses, by Les Henry
  • Catalogues (links below)
  • House plans (links below)
  • Current Sears catalogue (optional) to be brought in

Description

  1. Assign a different catalogue to each group of students.
    Suggested catalogues are the:
     
  2. Using the floor plan of a 1929 Eaton’s house or of a student’s own house for the group that uses the current Sears catalogue, each group must build a model of a house and then furnish it with items from one catalogue. Rooms to include as a minimum are kitchen, bathroom, living room or parlour, and one bedroom. Other rooms can be added if groups wish.
     
  3. Ask students to furnish the house with the items they think a middle-class family would have.
     
  4. Have the students calculate the cost of all items.
     
  5. The houses can be two-dimensional or three-dimensional, as students wish and as time and resources permit.
     
  6. Furnishings can be printed from catalogue pages and glued onto stiff paper, or else drawn using the illustration as reference.
     
  7. To make items stand up, students can glue small stands behind them.
     
  8. When groups are finished, students present their houses to the class and discuss which furnishings they selected and why.
     
  9. As a class, students compare the changes in technologies, décor and costs. Using the income tables from the Webquest, students can compare costs as a percentage of income in 1936, 1939, 1945, 1950, and 1956.

© Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation

Subjects
Social Studies, Geography, Art

Themes
Global connections and globalization

Resources Eaton's Fall and Winter 1948-49 catalogue Contemporary Sears catalogue to bring in Two large maps of the world

Description Ask the students to try to determine the places of origin of the items they have ordered. How many different places around the world do the items come from?
  Mark the locations on a map of the world with sticky labels or pins.
  Ask the students to browse the catalogue to find other items with place of origin indicated, and have them mark the locations on the map of the world.
  Ask students to look at a contemporary catalogue. Where do items come from now?
  Cut out items that come from various places in the world.
  Finally, as Read More

Subjects
Social Studies, Geography, Art

Themes
Global connections and globalization

Resources

Description

  1. Ask the students to try to determine the places of origin of the items they have ordered. How many different places around the world do the items come from?
     
  2. Mark the locations on a map of the world with sticky labels or pins.
     
  3. Ask the students to browse the catalogue to find other items with place of origin indicated, and have them mark the locations on the map of the world.
     
  4. Ask students to look at a contemporary catalogue. Where do items come from now?
     
  5. Cut out items that come from various places in the world.
     
  6. Finally, ask students to make two collages. On one collage, paste printed or drawn items from the 1948 catalogue around a map of the world near their places of origin; connect with lines or thumbtacks and string to their places of origin. On the second collage, cut out items from the contemporary catalogue and paste them around the map of the world near their places of origin; connect with lines to their place of origin. What is similar and different about the two collages?
     
  7. Discuss the trend toward globalization with its benefits and problems.

© Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation

Subjects
Social Studies, Language Arts, Art

Themes
Consumerism, needs and wants, change

Resources Eaton's Fall and Winter 1948-49 catalogue Current Sears catalogue (to bring in) Other contemporary mail-order catalogues (to bring in)

Description Ask each student to bring in one or more mail-order catalogues from home.
  Break the class into small groups and ask students to compare a current Sears catalogue and one or more other contemporary catalogues to the 1948 catalogue they used in the Webquest.
  After a reasonable amount of time (about 30 minutes), lead a class discussion about the changes in catalogue design and content, and in goods available.
  Conclude with a discussion of the causes and implications of the growth of consumerism and materialism since 1948.
  Ex Read More

Subjects
Social Studies, Language Arts, Art

Themes
Consumerism, needs and wants, change

Resources

Description

  1. Ask each student to bring in one or more mail-order catalogues from home.
     
  2. Break the class into small groups and ask students to compare a current Sears catalogue and one or more other contemporary catalogues to the 1948 catalogue they used in the Webquest.
     
  3. After a reasonable amount of time (about 30 minutes), lead a class discussion about the changes in catalogue design and content, and in goods available.
     
  4. Conclude with a discussion of the causes and implications of the growth of consumerism and materialism since 1948.
     
  5. Extend this to an art activity by printing out or sketching similar items from old and new catalogues and making a collage that compares the old and the new.

Here are some areas to compare:

  • Cover: Image, design, text, message
     
  • Main sections of current Sears catalogue:
     
    • How have these changed?
    • How many pages are dedicated to each section in 1948 compared to today?
    • What sections have disappeared?
    • What new sections are there?
       
  • Contents of specialty catalogues:
     
  • Vocabulary:
     
    • What words are no longer used?
    • What new words are used?
    • Make a list of outdated words and their meanings.
       
  • Items for sale, especially fashion, appliances, audio-visual equipment:
     
    • What is the same?
    • What has changed?
    • What has disappeared?
    • For items that have disappeared, has anything replaced them?
       
  • Some items to look at in both old and new catalogues are: gloves, umbrellas, handkerchiefs, hats, electric irons, hot plates, radios, phonographs, bikes, stoves, barn equipment, cream separators, harnesses, and washing machines.

© Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation

Subjects
Social Studies, History

Themes
Changing roles and images of women

Resources Mail-order catalogues on this site Catalogues and Women's Fashion, by Shirley Lavertu Fe-mail: Women in Eaton's Toronto Mail-order Catalogues, by Lorraine O'Donnell Contemporary catalogues (to bring in)

Description Ask students to read the papers by Shirley Lavertu and Lorraine O'Donnell in which they discuss how women are portrayed in historical catalogues.
  Ask students to look in various historic catalogues for examples of how women are portrayed.
  Print out, sketch or make note of specific examples of women in each catalogue, showing different roles such as homemaker, caree Read More

Subjects
Social Studies, History

Themes
Changing roles and images of women

Resources

Description

  1. Ask students to read the papers by Shirley Lavertu and Lorraine O'Donnell in which they discuss how women are portrayed in historical catalogues.
     
  2. Ask students to look in various historic catalogues for examples of how women are portrayed.
     
  3. Print out, sketch or make note of specific examples of women in each catalogue, showing different roles such as homemaker, career woman, or athlete.
     
  4. Engage in a class discussion about how the portrayals changed and stayed the same and how these portrayals reflect changes in women's roles.

Extend this activity to the present day by comparing the portrayals of women in the historical catalogues with those in contemporary catalogues.


© Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation

Subjects
Social Studies, Drama, Business Studies

Themes
Labour history, transportation

Resources
Processing Orders in the Mail-order Industry, by John Willis

Description Ask students to read the paper by John Willis in which he describes the steps involved in filling out a mail order in the 1920s.
  Divide the class into groups of four or five students.
  Using the process described in the Willis article, ask groups to choose one object from their Webquest and dramatize the entire process of placing an order, sending in the order, filling the order, and delivering it.
  Ask each group to present their dramatization to the class.

Subjects
Social Studies, Drama, Business Studies

Themes
Labour history, transportation

Resources
Processing Orders in the Mail-order Industry, by John Willis

Description

  1. Ask students to read the paper by John Willis in which he describes the steps involved in filling out a mail order in the 1920s.
     
  2. Divide the class into groups of four or five students.
     
  3. Using the process described in the Willis article, ask groups to choose one object from their Webquest and dramatize the entire process of placing an order, sending in the order, filling the order, and delivering it.
     
  4. Ask each group to present their dramatization to the class.

© Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation

Subject
Social Studies, Language Arts, Art

Themes
Change, writing for a specific audience

Resources Eaton's Fall and Winter 1948-49 catalogue; Contemporary catalogues brought in by students

Description Ask each student to bring in one or more mail-order catalogues from home.
  Ask each student to choose two similar items from the Eaton's Fall and Winter 1948-49 catalogue and a recent catalogue, such as a dress, pair of pants, bike, or stove.
  Print out the 1948 image and text and cut out the contemporary image and text. Analyse how both texts are written.
  Ask the students to write a description of the old item using modern language and the modern item using old language.

To extend this activity into an art activity, ask your students to design a catalogue page for the old catalogue usin Read More

Subject
Social Studies, Language Arts, Art

Themes
Change, writing for a specific audience

Resources

Description

  1. Ask each student to bring in one or more mail-order catalogues from home.
     
  2. Ask each student to choose two similar items from the Eaton's Fall and Winter 1948-49 catalogue and a recent catalogue, such as a dress, pair of pants, bike, or stove.
     
  3. Print out the 1948 image and text and cut out the contemporary image and text. Analyse how both texts are written.
     
  4. Ask the students to write a description of the old item using modern language and the modern item using old language.

To extend this activity into an art activity, ask your students to design a catalogue page for the old catalogue using a modern-day item of their choice.

top of page


© Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation

Subjects
Social Studies, English Language Arts

Theme
Any!

Resources Eaton's Fall and Winter 1948-49 catalogue; Other catalogues (links below) Description
Students create a quiz using catalogue images and text. Individually or as a group, pick out five objects from the Eaton's Fall and Winter 1948-49 catalogue.
  Print out the five pages.
  Cut out the objects and their descriptions and separate them into two different piles.
  Challenge a classmate to match the correct description to the correct object or do this as a class. See who can match the objects and descriptions the quickest.

You can do this activity with other catalogues from this site. Some of the earliest catalogues have the most unusual objects. Read More

Subjects
Social Studies, English Language Arts

Theme
Any!

Resources

Description


Students create a quiz using catalogue images and text.

  1. Individually or as a group, pick out five objects from the Eaton's Fall and Winter 1948-49 catalogue.
     
  2. Print out the five pages.
     
  3. Cut out the objects and their descriptions and separate them into two different piles.
     
  4. Challenge a classmate to match the correct description to the correct object or do this as a class. See who can match the objects and descriptions the quickest.

You can do this activity with other catalogues from this site. Some of the earliest catalogues have the most unusual objects.

Look at the:


© Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation

Subjects
Math

Resources
Eaton's Fall and Winter 1948-49 catalogue

Description
Students create math problems for classmates to do. Provide students with one or two examples. Challenge your students to convert the imperial measures to metric. Examples: You need to buy shoes for three children and have $22.50 to spend, including tax and shipping. Which shoes do you buy?
  You have ten dollars to spend on Christmas gifts. Your family needs to purchase items for mother, father, 5 year-old son, and 10 year-old daughter. What do you buy?
  You want to replace the shingles on your roof (page 560). Your roof is 15 yd x 4 yd on each of two sides. How many shingles do Read More

Subjects
Math

Resources
Eaton's Fall and Winter 1948-49 catalogue

Description
Students create math problems for classmates to do. Provide students with one or two examples. Challenge your students to convert the imperial measures to metric. Examples:

  1. You need to buy shoes for three children and have $22.50 to spend, including tax and shipping.
    • Which shoes do you buy?
       
  2. You have ten dollars to spend on Christmas gifts. Your family needs to purchase items for mother, father, 5 year-old son, and 10 year-old daughter.
    • What do you buy?
       
  3. You want to replace the shingles on your roof (page 560). Your roof is 15 yd x 4 yd on each of two sides.
    • How many shingles do you need?
    • What will it cost?
    • How much will the most expensive shingles cost?
    • The least expensive?
    • What if you just need to patch a small area of 2 yd x 2 yd?

Similar challenges could focus on fabric (page 322), carpet (page 416), and linoleum flooring (page 414 and 415).


© Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation

Subjects
Math, Technology and Information Studies, History

Theme
Change

Resources Eaton's Fall and Winter 1948-49 catalogue Contemporary Sears catalogue (to bring in; Price conversion table (below)

Price Conversion Table

Use this table to compare catalogue prices to 2003 dollars. To compare prices to current dollars, use the full table provided at http://www.bankofcanada.ca/en/inflation_calc.htm.

In 2003 you would need …

$12.04

...to match the purchasing power of $1 in 1918. Read More

Subjects
Math, Technology and Information Studies, History

Theme
Change

Resources

Price Conversion Table

Use this table to compare catalogue prices to 2003 dollars. To compare prices to current dollars, use the full table provided at http://www.bankofcanada.ca/en/inflation_calc.htm.

In 2003 you would need …

$12.04

...to match the purchasing power of $1 in 1918.

In 2003 you would need...

$11.16

...to match the purchasing power of $1 in 1926.

In 2003 you would need...

$11.27

...to match the purchasing power of $1 in 1929.

In 2003 you would need...

$13.95

...to match the purchasing power of $1 in 1936.

In 2003 you would need...

$13.49

...to match the purchasing power of $1 in 1939.

In 2003 you would need...

$9.03

...to match the purchasing power of $1 in 1948.

In 2003 you would need...

$8.41

...to match the purchasing power of $1 in 1950.

In 2003 you would need...

$7.31

...to match the purchasing power of $1 in 1956.

In 2003 you would need...

$6.57

...to match the purchasing power of $1 in 1962.

In 2003 you would need...

$5.79

...to match the purchasing power of $1 in 1967.

In 2003 you would need...

$3.69

...to match the purchasing power of $1 in 1975.

Source: Bank of Canada Inflation Calculator

Description

  1. Ask each group of students to convert the 1948 order into a contemporary order. They must find an equivalent item in the Sears catalogue for each item on their original order.
     
  2. Calculate the cost of the entire order. Using the price conversion table, ask each group to determine the cost of the 1948 order in current dollars. How does the overall cost compare? Calculate the percentage increase or decrease.
     
  3. Repeat this activity for each item on the list, comparing the price of each item in current dollars. Which items increased the most? The least? Repeat this activity with items in other catalogues available on this site.
     
  4. Ask each group to present its findings.
     
  5. Lead a class discussion about why prices change and what historical events account for the differences in the rate of change in various years.

© Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation

Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • observe and identify the characteristics of early 20th century lifestyle;
  • compare the evolution of the Canadian and Quebec society over several decades;
  • explain the similarities and differences between past and present society;
  • discuss the main events of the 20th century (economic crisis, World Wars, unionization, feminist movement) and the impact that they had on Canadian and Quebec societies.

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