Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

Resource created by M&S Company Archive.

This resource is one of four M&S timelines intended to provide a broad picture of the development of different M&S products, using selected images from the M&S Company Archive collection. The overall aim of the M&S Food Timeline resource is to show changes in food products throughout the history of the Company, and how this might link to social history and world events.

Curriculum Links

  • KS2 Design and Technology: Cooking and Nutrition
  • KS2/3 History:  U nderstand historical concepts such as continuity and change; Britain since the 1930s
  • KS2/3 Art and Design: Research, explore, create.
  • KS2 Maths:- collecting and presenting data (graphs, bar charts - see Mini Food Topic)
  • KS2 Science: materials; heating and cooling (see Mini Food Topic)
  • KS2 Literacy: persuasive writing, advertisements and information texts (see Mini Food Topic)

Learning Objectives

  • Knowledge of how mass-produced food products have changed over time and what innovations have appeared in retail food production
  • Understanding of why these changes occurred and their significance to retailers and consumers
  • Skills to translate the knowledge and understanding into developing  and/or designing  their own food product ideas

Discussion Ideas

  • How has the food we eat changed over the last 100 years?
  • Innovation: how many food items can you think of that were 'firsts' in the retail world?  What might the next food 'first' be?
  • Innovation is a key theme in M&S advertising materials, why do you think this is?
  • Healthy choices are promoted in M&S food ranges, why is this important? Who benefits from this promotion?
  • How does the 'Count on Us' range help those people wanting to lose weight?
  • How can you make fruit and vegetables more interesting to eat? What could you use? What will it look/taste like?
  • How many healthy sandwich fillings can you think of?
  • Do you think consumers prefer hand-made 'one-off' items or mass-produced items sold in large numbers, and why? Does the answer change for different types of products (e.g. food, clothing)? 
  • Why might people sometimes prefer to buy mass-produced items when they are shopping?

Activity ideas (see also Mini Food Topic below)

KS2 Design & Technology:
Healthy Eating
  • Using the timeline as a starting point, make a list of healthy products that have been sold at M&S then try to find out what the ingredients are.
  • Identify a target group of people then design and make a product for a particular occasion to encourage that group to eat more fruit or vegetables. You will need to plan your work carefully - think about what you will need, where will you work, who will do what, how much time will it take, etc.
  • Evaluate your product by asking questions to find out what people think about it, then write down what you would do differently next time and why.
  • Invent a new sandwich to be sold in supermarkets. As well as the filling, you also need to think about what type of bread and spread to use, and the final shape and appearance. You could work in a small group to set up a 'production line' to create your sandwiches, with each person doing one particular process towards the final product.
KS3 Design & Technology
  • Design and make a new salad or soup that encourages people to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • Design a food product that is suitable for manufacture in volume.  Pupils can work as a team to design and make their product, identifying different roles for team members.

    Do some research first to  learn how manufacturers generate and develop new ideas for products, eg lifestyle research, prototyping, and what  is meant by 'one-off' and 'high-volume' production.
KS2/3 Art and Design:
  • Design your own packaging for one of the products created as a result of the activities above - a new 'healthy' food product for a target group, a new salad or soup, or a new sandwich.

    Or draw a poster advertising the same product, to persuade more consumers to buy it.

  • Look at the 1950s food advertisements (see Supporting Links in 'Resources') then look for  examples of modern adverts, bring them in to school and compare them with the old ones. 
KS2 Literacy:
  • Write a modern day equivalent for one of the 1950s food advertisements (see Supporting Links) or try and convert a modern advert to the writing style of the 1950s.