Objectives: Students will be able to understand the historical process of urbanization in Great Britain Students will be able to understand the impact of urbanization

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The Urban Game
AIM: How did industrialization reshape the English countryside?

  • Students will be able to understand the historical process of urbanization in Great Britain

  • Students will be able to understand the impact of urbanization on the land and the people

  • Students will simulate the haphazard “urban planning” that took place at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution

  • Students will be able to understand the problems associated with the lack of urban planning

Suggested Prior Knowledge: It is suggested that teachers prepare their students prior to the simulation by covering the following topics—

  • How did people live before the Industrial Revolution?

  • What changes in agriculture and production made industrialization possible?

  • How did new inventions spark industrialization?

  • What ingredients are necessary for industrialization to take place?

  • Why did the Industrial Revolution begin in Great Britain?


  • Blank piece of legal sized paper

  • Pencil with an eraser

  • Drawing guide (attached)

  • Rounds (attached)

  • PowerPoint presentation with Rounds and helpful visuals

  • Change over time chart (attached)

Opening Activity:

  1. Students read Background Material – Urban Game – the year is 1700 and the nation is England. This simulation is based on the development of Manchester, England.

  2. Students complete half of the Change Over Time chart – BEFORE Industrialization using the Background Material reading.

Set-up: Make sure each student has a pencil, a piece of paper, and a drawing guide. (Students can use whatever symbols they want – they just need to be consistent. The drawing guide may help students who are less artistically confident.) Have them draw the following:

Draw a river across your paper connecting east to west. The river should be about 1 inch wide. Draw a wooden bridge across the river and draw 4 roads originating from each direction. Mark off a portion of the land in your village as the commons (land that can be used by all in the village). Draw 10 houses, 1 church, 1 cemetery, 1 store, 1 pub, 1 coal mine, and lots of trees.

Each student’s paper will look different. See the attached Sample image for a guide. Make sure students are drawing in pencil!
Activity: Read each round (you may display each round in the PowerPoint presentation as you go) – ask questions, elicit understanding, explain the events taking place in each round. Then have students add the objects noted. Students should not draw more or less than requested; students should not touch the commons until they are told to do so. This activity can take 2 to 3 days. Be sure to give students enough time to draw and understand the process.
Closing Activity: Students complete the other half of the Change Over Time Chart – AFTER Industrialization. You may wish to give students access to the PowerPoint presentation or to their own copy of the text of the rounds so they may refresh their memories of the details.
Summary Activity:

  1. Student debate – Was it worth it?

  2. Students write an essay comparing life before to life after industrialization.

The Urban Game – Background Material
The year is 1700 and the nation is England. The scene is a rural village. Over the next 100 years, a revolution as significant as the Neolithic Revolution will completely change life in your village.
Life here in village England is similar to other villages across Europe in the 18th century. Change traditionally comes very slowly. People generally moved at a much slower pace and had access to very little information about the world outside of their village. London, England’s largest city and one of the two real cities Europe, had a population of about 750,000 in 1750. Three out of every four Englishmen were rural and lived in small villages. Villages were inhabited by about 200 to 400 people. The tallest structure in the village was the church. The religion of England was Anglican (Church of England). Home life and work life were integrated as most work was done in nearby fields, in the home, or perhaps in an adjoining workshop.
The family was an economic unit as well as a social unit. Every member of the family worked very hard from sunup to sundown. Even small children had chores. The homes of villagers were small with earthen floors and inadequate light and ventilation. All members of the family slept in the same room and sometimes shared living quarters with livestock. Sons worked with the father farming and tending livestock. Daughters worked with the mother cooking, cleaning, sewing, and doing other domestic chores. Life expectancy was slightly over 40 years of age. Most people married in their teens and had babies before they were 20. It was common for women to die in childbirth so the average marriage lasted about 15 years. Stepfathers and stepmothers were common. One out of three children died before their first birthday; only one out of two children saw their 21st birthday.
Unlike France, the English were not rigidly divided into social or legal Estates. However, there was a distinct social class system. Most English were poor farmers. A few were middle class like the bourgeoisie of France. For the most part, the middle class lived in London. A small number of individuals were aristocrats and usually owned large tracts of land in the English countryside. For both peasant and aristocrat, the soil was the key to the economy. Land was the source of livelihood and well-being. Having enough land to produce adequate food, or to produce enough to sell, or even to rent, was the key to economic survival. These traditions concerning land guided daily living. These traditions were designed to ensure the stability and welfare of the greater community. Hence marriages and inheritance were geared to maintaining family property intact. Marriages were arranged by parents to maintain or better the economic status of their sons or daughters. However, not all could get married. A man usually had to own land on which to support a family before he dared marry. It was not uncommon for men to wait until their 30’s when they inherited land from their parents which enabled them to marry. If a woman did not bring land into a marriage, she had to have some kind of dowry. Daughters who inherited property from their parents had to pass it on to their husbands. All land was given to the eldest son (primogeniture) while younger sons might receive cash payment or wait for their older brother to die.