Goodnight Mister Tom


Goodnight Mister Tom theme day

Chiltern Open Air Museum’s Goodnight Mister Tom theme day is a creative writing, literacy theme day based on the story of Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian.

The day begins with an experience of the Blitz – we deliberately make this noisy and monotonous so that it doesn’t glamorise what was an uncomfortable and unpleasant aspect of war time life in the cites. The children are then ‘evacuated’ to the Museum’s traditional ‘Village Green’ where they find themselves billeted either with Mr Tom Oakley, or at school with Mrs Hartridge or visiting Mrs Brant (an inferred character from the story). Mrs Brant lives inside her ‘brand new’ 1940s prefab home which boasts electric lights and an indoor flushing toilet. (Mrs Brant’s character is based upon Mrs Clarence from the chapter within the story titled ‘The sea, the sea, the sea).

We offer three sessions within this theme day: 

  • Two contrasting lifestyles:
  1. Mr Tom’s home – outdoor bucket toilet, indoor range for warmth and cooking
  2. Mrs Brant’s home – indoor flushing toilet, electric cooker
  • 1940s school experience with Mrs Hartridge

Using actor educators these sessions bring the story to life immersing the children inside the world of the 1940s and can be used both as an introduction to 1940s life and an inspiration for creative writing, based upon the story of Goodnight Mr Tom. The theme day is aimed at children in KS2.

The Museum also offers KS1 theme days based on the traditional tales of The Little Red Hen.

All of the Museum’s theme days are cross-curricular combining aspects history and literacy as well as often referencing aspects of maths and science.

A Note from Michelle Magorian

‘It always cheers me up when I hear about children being taken out of the classroom to a theatre or a museum or to some open spaces so I was delighted to hear about a museum that combines history, drama and story telling and intrigued and flattered to know that young people would also be able to enter the world of Goodnight Mister Tom there.’

At Chiltern Open Air Museum these children will be learning on their feet and through their eyes and hands. Perhaps they will make a return visit and enter the world of another author’s book. I hope so.’ Michelle Magorian author of Goodnight Mister Tom

Teachers feedback

Feedback from visiting schools tells us that, once children have taken part in the day they are able to relate both to the characters and their ‘1940s’ lives with real ease: this new awareness is reflected within writing of their own and quality outcomes in all aspects of literacy – creative story writing, poetry and drama – are the result.

The following is a teachers description of her experience at the Museum with her class and its aftermath.

‘The children found it much easier to talk (and consequently) write about how the characters would have felt living with Mister Tom and being at the village school.’

‘After the visit the children were able to describe the effects of living away from home in greater depth. Having actually sat in Mister Tom’s cottage allowed them to make comparisons to their own lives and creature comforts! Additionally, talking to the characters (who kept in character throughout) and asking questions of them, supported understanding further.’

Further Information

Goodnight Mr Tom planning for teachers
Michelle Magorian has asked us to share written this note on Willie Beeches’ mother Mrs Beech
Tips for a school visit to the Museum
Education contact form
All school workshops









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