While we are no longer developing Digital Mysteries and Thinking Kit, we are leaving our website up for those of you interested in the ideas behind the Apps.

The Booth Family

Booth family app

Audience: KS2

Subject: History / English

Topic: Group discussion and interaction, Victorian era, 19th century, inventions

Question: Should the Booth family move to Manchester?

Author: Anne de A’Echevarria




Should the Booth family move to Manchester? 

This mystery has been designed particularly with the History and English curriculum in mind. It can also be used to foster the development of generic higher order thinking skills.


The new National Curriculum 2014 demands that pupils study an aspect or theme in British history that extends their chronological knowledge beyond 1066. This mystery could be used to that end, for example, by supporting a study into why towns grew in the 19th century, or how key inventions, such as steam power, represented a significant turning point in British history for the manner in which they effected our economy and society. The mystery could also support a local history study into the effects of industrialisation and population movement (particularly for pupils living in areas effected by the textile industry).

The mystery helps pupils to address historically valid questions about change, cause, similarity and difference, and significance.  It encourages pupils to construct informed responses that involve thoughtful selection and organisation of historical information.


The mystery could also be used to help pupils learn and understand the conventions of discussion. Relevant learning objectives might include:

  • make contributions relevant to the topic and take turns in discussion;
  • vary contributions to suit the activity and purpose, including exploratory and tentative comments where ideas are being collected together, and reasoned, evaluative comments as discussion moves to conclusions;
  • qualify or justify what you think after listening to others' questions or accounts;

  • deal politely with opposing points of view;
  • use different ways to help the group move forward, including summarising the main points, reviewing what has been said, clarifying, drawing others in, reaching agreement, considering alternatives.

Thinking skills

Learning objectives relating to the generic thinking skills that the mystery aims to develop might include:

  • to justify ideas with reasons.
  • to form a well-structured argument.
  • to speculate and draw inferences from information.