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Supplementary Activities

Let's Go Shopping 1948! Secondary Webquest

Information for Teachers

Materials Required
Objectives | Duration | Outcomes
Curriculum Links

This Webquest will guide your students through a fun and thought provoking interdisciplinary activity that simulates a family selecting and purchasing articles from the Eaton's Fall and Winter 1948-49 catalogue. It will also challenge your students to use two other mail-order catalogues to travel back to 1936 and forward to 1956 to determine what items families might order in those years. It is designed for use by groups of four or five students over the course of several days.

When students are finished their tasks each day, or at the end of the entire Webquest, they can undertake one or more of the activities on the For Students Page. These activities make use of the mail-order catalogues on this site and are designed for students to do independently with minimal teacher involvement.

Materials Required

Just about everything your students need to do this Webquest is provided on this site.

You will also need:

  • a large map of Canada on a wall or projected onto a screen;
  • paper, scissors, and glue for making collages;
  • student access to a printer if possible. If students are unable to use a printer, print out:
    • one copy per group of Worksheets 1 and 2
    • one copy per student of Worksheets 3, 4, and 5
    • one copy per student and per group of the catalogue's order form and one copy per group of the order forms in the 1936 and 1956 catalogues;
  • grading rubric.


Students will:

  • learn and reinforce concepts related to Technology, Social Studies, Canadian and World History and Geography, Art, and English Language Arts;
  • develop skills in the areas of primary-source research, communications, technology, teamwork, presentation, problem-solving, decision-making, critical thinking.


This activity is designed to be flexible and can accommodate any classroom schedule. If it is done in 40 minutes periods, it will be completed in 4 or 5 days.

The Webquest can be shortened by eliminating some of the tasks. It can also be expanded by adding the teacher-led activities outlined in Supplementary Activities.


In groups, students will:

  • assume the identity of a 1948 family living in one of five regions of Canada;
  • locate the family on a map of Canada; and
  • determine the route used by Eaton's to deliver their order to their family.

Independently, students will:

  • assume the role of a member of their family;
  • research their character's name, age, gender, ethnic background, occupation, and income, and determine what they want and need to buy;
  • find and look at relevant on-line pages of the Eaton's Fall and Winter 1948-49 catalogue;
  • print out the illustration and description of the items they want to buy (optional); and
  • fill out an order form and add up the cost of all items.

As a group, students will:

  • discuss what each family member wishes to purchase and compile the overall cost;
  • after balancing desires and needs with a family's budget, determine a final list with items for all family members;
  • fill out a single order form;
  • print out and assemble a collage of all items each member ordered (optional);
  • fill out an equivalent order in 1936 and 1956, and determine the affordability of the orders by a similar family in those years;
  • make a presentation to the class describing the family circumstances in 1948, each member of the family, what they wanted to buy and what they finally bought, with an explanation of how they went from their wants to their needs;
  • display on the wall of the classroom their collages and order form; and
  • present the items they would order in relation to the incomes of families similar to theirs in 1936 and 1956.

As a class, students will:

  • discuss regional variations in family, income, occupation, and items ordered;
  • discuss other reasons each family ordered different items;
  • discuss changes over time; and
  • discuss the link between mail-order catalogues and the development of consumerism in Canada.

Curriculum Links

This interdisciplinary activity links to the following subjects in Grades 10, 11, and 12: Social Studies, History, Geography, Economics, Art, and English Language Arts. Click on your province to see the specific links to your provincial curriculum.


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