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 YEAR 1 Present and Past Family Life - Woodbridge


Woodbridge House 



Woodbridge, with its iron lace work, parquetry, polished jarrah, tessellated tile floors, and many pieces of original furniture, is a rare surviving example of a grand 19th century home. The attractive site on the banks of the Swan River, just east of the historic town of Guildford, was originally taken up by the colony’s first Governor, Captain James Stirling. By 1831, he had built a cottage there, a retreat from Government House. The property was purchased in 1883 by Charles Harper, farmer, politician and part owner of The West Australian newspaper.

Woodbridge has a varied history having been used as a gentleman’s residence, a preparatory school, a home for aged women and as an annexe for Governor Stirling Senior High School.

From the kitchen to the extensive entertaining areas, Woodbridge today reflects its role as home to Charles and Fanny Harper, their ten children and their servants.



The Year 1 curriculum provides a study of present and past family life within the context of the students’ own world. Students learn about similarities and differences in family life by comparing the present with the past. They begin to explore the links and the changes that occur over time.


This National Trust of Australia (WA) program is associated with the Year 1 Australian Curriculum: History. The central component of the program is an excursion to historic Woodbridge house. The program provides suggestions of pre-visit and post-visit activities that integrate the teaching of historical knowledge, understandings and skills. It should be adapted to suit your needs. Use as little or as much of the program as you wish; incorporate your own activities and teaching methodologies; or choose to focus on one or several key inquiry questions.

You may also cover the Cross-curriculum priorities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures and Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia if there are children in your class which make this appropriate.


Printer-friendly version (pdf) of Program - Present and Past Family Life 

Students use the following KEY INQUIRY QUESTIONS to discover:

·         How has family life changed or remained the same over time?

Woodbridge was the home to Charles and Fanny Harper and their ten children.  Explore the house and discover similarities and differences in family life by comparing the present with the past.


·         How can we show that the present is different from or similar to the past?

Woodbridge is furnished to reflect the late Victorian and early Edwardian periods. There are many artefacts and memorabilia known to have belonged to the Harpers providing opportunities to make comparisons between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ way of doing things.


·         How do we describe the sequence of time?

A tour through Woodbridge allows opportunities to develop vocabulary from the past when making now / then comparisons, as well as using terms that indicate time such as ‘a long time ago’, ‘now and then’, ‘old and new’.

This program allows students to develop historical skills through key concepts appropriate to their age and ability.

Historical Skills:


Sequence historical people and events

Distinguish between the past, present and future

Pose questions about the past using sources provided

Explore a range of sources about the past

Identify and compare features of objects from the past and present

Explore a point of view


Key Concepts:


Continuity and change

On a tour through Woodbridge students identify what aspects of family life have changed and remained the same.


Cause and effect

Through the story of the Harper family students consider how and why families have changed over time in terms of size, structure and roles.



Students learn about the roles and responsibilities of those who lived and worked at Woodbridge providing an insight into how people’s perspectives are determined by their circumstances.



Students see how the Harper family lived and hear stories about what their life was like and make comparisons with their own life to develop an appreciation of the family’s experiences.



Students develop an understanding of what makes Woodbridge special and worth keeping for future generations.