Leeds Museums & Galleries created revolutionary banners with Green Lane Primary School, Bradford. The banners were created by Year 5 and 6 students over four sessions, three held at Leeds Industrial Museum and the last at the school.

See our simple step-by-step guide for making these in the Classroom.


1. Inspiration and Immersion

On arrival at the museum, the students completed an outcome star created to help measure change in understanding and attitudes from the project beginning to the end.

The students were then dressed in Victorian mill workers’ aprons and hats before meeting the ‘Gaffer’ – the scary and very strict mill overseer. They:

• Were introduced to the Industrial Revolution

• Tried their hand at many of the processes used to make cloth from wool, and witnessed a spinning mule in action, introducing them to the noise, dust and the danger involved for the workers

students watching demonstration of a carding machine

• Learnt about the strict mill rules, the consequences of breaking them and reflected on what life was like for a Victorian mill child

a student's reflection on mill children

• Read through the sampler The Factory Child’s Trouble and talked about empathy

• Found out about the Chartists and the Peterloo Massacre

• Explored how campaigns can lead to revolutions

• Started thinking about what inequalities affect their lives, and the kind of revolution they want to see.


2. Exploration and Felting

The pupils arrived with work they had completed independently, and without prompting, on the issues facing the planet and their communities, and their effects. They had obviously put a lot of thought into things that they want to change.

During this session we:

• Used images of objects from the Revolutionary Collection such as the steam-powered printing press, Peterloo banner, and Phrygian cap, along with objects from Leeds Museums & Galleries collection, to explore different types of revolution (Industrial, Information, Political, Women’s Rights) and discussed overlaps and connections

• Looked at the different ways people show their support for a campaign – from banners, to clothing, to other items

• Narrowed down the revolution the students each wanted to campaign for, these included:

• Equality and inclusion

• Global warming

• Plastic pollution

• Homlessness

• Gender pay gap

students' lists of causes that they are interested in

• Looked at examples of campaign banners from various time periods and thought about the use of colour and design.

• Planned the banner designs

a student's design for a protest banner

• Used wool to create a piece of felt that would become a banner.

students creating handmade felt protest banners

students creating handmade felt protest banners

students creating handmade felt protest banners

students creating handmade felt protest banners


3. Printing messages

During this session we explored the impact of the printing press and the use of slogans. The students:

• Looked at slogans from past and current campaigns and listed those they know from popular culture

• Worked to cut down their revolutionary message to just a few words

• Were introduced to the 150 year old printing press from Leeds Museums collection, and discovered its impact on the information revolution

• Used original printing blocks and equipment to compose their message in mirror image.

students choosing printing blocks to create their slogans

• Did a trial run on paper to check for spelling and letters orientated correctly, before printing their message on their felt banner

inking up printing blocks

• Reflected on the differences and similarities between the two creative processes of felting and printing.

a selection of homemade felt banners after printing

• Watched a short section of the Mike Lee film ‘Peterloo’ to see the banners, the difference between the law makers and the workers and the use of violent tactics to disperse the crowd.


4. Adding Digital Elements

This session was completed at school, using the computing suite and micro:bits. Each student had the choice of using a fixed strip of multiple neopixels, or four single neopixels that could be placed anywhere on their banner. (Neopixels are very small, bright lights that can be programmed to be any colour). The students:

• Got familiar with micro:bits, using the built-in display of red LEDs to scroll words associated with revolution, and used some of the inputs available on the micro:bit, such as gestures and the buttons

student using coding software

• Used a strip of neopixels to explore colours and animations, and learnt how to change each individual neopixel’s colour, how to cycle through colour changes and how to use the buttons to control different light effects

• Decided on which neopixels to use, where they would go on their banner, whether the micro:bit would be on the front or the back of the banner, and programmed the desired light effect using the micro:bit

a homemade felt protest banner reading 'if things don't go right go left'

• Assembled their banner, fixing their neopixels in place, adding backing material, adding a pocket for the battery case on the back

a homemade protest banner reading 'one race many faces'

• Revisited the outcome star from the first session to think about if and how their understanding of revolution and their opinions about museums had changed through the project.

an example of an outcome star

• Reflected on the project as a whole.

a handmade banner for women's rights