Birth of an Industrial Nation

Your lesson will take place amid the museum’s world-renowned collection of dolls, toys, and artifacts of play. Students will be divided into two groups, each representing a different company, and work on a real life assembly line. As they work together to manufacture toy cars, they will experience what life may have been like during the industrial revolution.

Lesson extensions for before or after your visit

The following activities are designed for your class to enjoy before or after your museum visit. Familiarizing students with the lesson concepts can enrich their museum experience.

Team work

After discussing, reading, or studying the concept of an assembly line, ask students to create their own assembly line to mass produce something in the classroom. Divide the class into smaller teams and challenge each team to create a reproducible product of their own invention. The product must fit the following criteria (or other criteria that you deem appropriate):

The product:

  1. Has a purpose
  2. Has at least two or more different parts
  3. Must have uniformity
  4. Must be made by at least three different people

Allow plenty of time for this activity to develop and for students to organize themselves as needed. At the conclusion of the team activity talk with your students about the pros and cons of mass-produced products, the criteria for good teamwork, and the importance of leadership in good business.

Assembly line terminology hats

Have students use their textbooks to find 10 words each that relate to assembly-line terminology. Have each student select one word or term to work with. Using miscellaneous craft materials, challenge each student to create a hat that symbolizes the meaning of the term they chose. Have a party at the end of the day and allow students to interact and mingle with their hats on. Encourage students to engage in conversations that explore how the terms they represent relate to one another.

Assembly line A to Z

After students have had experiences with role-playing work on an assembly line, invite them to work in groups of five or larger (the whole class works well too) and try this fun improvisational activity.

While standing or sitting in a circle, carry on an improvisational conversation about working on an assembly line. Students take turns speaking and responding to each other in order. Ask one student to start the conversation. The challenge is to begin with a statement that starts with the letter A. The next person adds to the conversation with a statement or response that begins with the letter B. Students continue adding to the discussion, in alphabetical order, until the last person ends the conversation with a statement beginning with Z.


  1. Student 1: Ah, this assembly line work is tough!
  2. Student 2: Beats making things by hand at home.
  3. Student 3: Can’t you two be quiet? I am trying to concentrate on my job.