Love in London

The Spirit of Rock 'n' Roll
We recommend that you choose either the Let’s Go to the Hop activity (a dressing up / drama activity more suitable for age 12 plus) or the Skiffle Time activity (craft and music making activity for all ages).
For Let’s Go to the Hop you will need a selection of the following objects:
Tail combs, Brylcreem, sponge rollers, chiffon headscarves, kirby grip hairpins, hairnets.
50s style sunglasses, red lipstick, net petticoats, bootlace ties.
Pictures of 1950s rock n roll fashion.
Old vinyl records to look at.
Any other 50s style memorabilia.
Rock n Roll music to dance to.
For Skiffle Time you will need:
Empty plastic containers with screw-on lids (e.g. water bottles, body butter pots, vitamin pill pots, small boxes).
Shoe boxes, rubber bands.
Lentils, popcorn or similar to fill shakers.
Glue, sellotape to secure containers.
Craft materials to decorate.
For the Cool Down activity (crafting a unique object) you will need a selection of the following, enough for each pupil to choose a piece:
Odd balls of wool, string, bits of knitting or cut up rags or old jumpers, crepe paper, pieces of stretchy lycra, strips of tactile fabrics.
Optional: something to use as a basis for the object construction, like a chair, table, or chicken wire sculpture.

Portrait of the ’50s

A team of people from Entelechy Arts collected stories from older people who live in London for Little Boxes of Memories. This photo shows "Flo", one of the ladies Entelechy met while she was in hospital, recovering from a stroke. She told us about her life in 1950s London. Life could be hard then. People did not have much money after the Second World War. There were still rations, so it was necessary to “make do and mend”. Many people lived in very poor conditions. This meant that going out and having fun was important for young people. Flo talked a lot about rock ’n’ roll music, dancing and 1950s fashion. Here is a video of the kind of rock ’n’ roll dancing that Flo liked.

Let's go to the Hop!

Flo had a boyfriend who was a "Teddy Boy". Look at the images of their clothes and of a barber cutting a "Quiff": Let’s act out or mime a 1950s barber’s by setting up seats around the room. Some pupils can be "barbers" and some can be "customers". Try out hairstyles, real or mimed, and check them in the mirror. Smell the Brylcreem, touch it and pass it round. How does it feel? Do you like the way it smells? Maybe even try it on your hair! Try to create a "ducktail" hairdo or a quiff. Get dressed up '50s style! Put on bootlace ties, petticoats, headscarves or sunglasses. Now let’s go to the hop…and dance! We’re going to play Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and the Comets.

Skiffle Time: Craft and music making

Flo loved Rock n Roll. 'Skiffle' was a similar type of music also popular in the 1950s, but skiffle bands often used home-made instruments which did not cost much money - like two spoons, or a tea chest bass made out of a broomstick, string and wooden box, alongside instruments like guitars of banjos. Let’s make shakers using empty containers filled with popcorn or lentils. Seal the lids with glue and sellotape. Decorate them with colour, glitter or feathers. Or make a box guitar using shoebox and rubber bands. You will need to cut a sound hole in the box. Try building up a skiffle rhythm using the homemade instruments - and everything else in the room! Play the tables, chairs, and walls…and use your voices and bodies to make noises, too. Shake, rattle and roll!

Cool Down

Not everyone had a television in the 1950s, so in the evenings they would relax at home by reading, playing cards, knitting or sewing. Flo loves knitting and crochet and is interested in all types of arts and craft. Together, we are going to "knit" a unique object. Switch off the video screens and make the classroom as quiet as possible. Gather in a circle. Choose a piece of material that you like. Do you prefer wool, string, a piece of knitting, fabric, crepe paper or stretchy lycra? Take it in turns to add something to the “object”. Try to be very quiet while you do this. The pieces can be tied to each other or attached to a chair or other structure. What does your finished object look like? Is it a blanket, a spider’s web, a strange animal, a robot… or something else?
Videos& Photographs: Roswitha Chesher. Web Design:donkeystudio