The Specialists

Vikings Schools Visits.jpg


Toys from the Past school visits for education.  We provide a living history and reenactment service as historical interpreters focusing on the QCA How are toys different from those in the past topic.  As re-enactors and educators, we bring the excitement of real history to your classroom.


Some of the locations we travel to for our Egyptians workshops are:

East-Midlands, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire , Warwickshire, Leamington, Leicester Hinckley Nottingham Leicester Coventry , Tamworth, Derbyshire, Derby, Chesterfield, Ilkeston, , Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, , Loughborough, Melton Mowbray, Coalville, Lutterworth, Rutland - Oakham, Uppingham. Cottesmore, Northampton, , Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough, West-Midlands, Warwick, Nuneaton, Rugby, Stratford-upon-Avon.





Thomas Top-Hat and Molly Mob-Cap bring the Toys from the Past into your school for an
exciting workshop
designed for Key Stage
 hands on historical enquiry through artefacts.

The Toys from the Past school
workshop is highly flexible.  It can be booked for up to three classes
in a
half day at £170.00, or combined with other sessions.  Please see our Victorian Visits page for a full day of Victorian activities.  Alternatively, our Making Push and Pull Toys Workshop links well with the DT curriculum and Exploring Forces links to Science objectives.  Mileage is also charged.

Toys from the Past

School Workshops

Exceptionally rare a century ago and designed by Albert Schlopsnies, a master toymaker who worked with Steiff in the early part of the last century, our replica marionette bear is one of only 1,911 in the whole world.
Moving Toys from the Past Handling Session
Thomas Top-Hat introduces himself and certain outstanding replica toys, which have been sourced internationally for the session, discussing how they work and their materials.  These include a
This workshop is designed to complement the handling session and the replica toys are used as inspiration for children to craft their own.  Thomas introduces a range of partly constructed kits of thaumotropes, flick books, whizzers and zoetrope strips for colouring and in some cases designing.  This work incorporates DT objectives.

This session incurs an extra charge per head to account for the time and resources involved in making the kits.
charming, limited edition Steiff replica marionette Pantom bear which first appeared in the Steiff catalogue in 1911.  Thomas then continues to show off his collection with examples of hand-made folk crafts from the southern USA and clockwork tin toys including Duck on a Trike which delights children.

Then, a wealth of high quality
reproduction and original toys are presented to the children in traditional wicker baskets for them to play with and discover the various mechanisms.

Additionally, each small group has a larger or special toy to engage with, such as bagatelle, shove ha'penny and a zoetrope.  The baskets of toys carousel around the groups until all have been seen, when the class gather for a plenary.

Our usual approach to in-role work is tempered with a realistic understanding of KS1 for these sessions and we can certainly come in costume but not in role if teachers think that it may cause confusion for pupils.  Our approach for Key Stage 1 is that we will acknowledge materials like plastic which we "shouldn't" know about - essentially whatever facilitates learning best will be our approach for the session.  Our focus is on the educational experience for the children and what serves them best, so the sessions are interactive and involve everyone.


The main handling session can also be adapted for older children to study toys through the ages, involving Roman, Egyptian and Tudor toys as well as the Victorian ones to compare and contrast.

SEN Schools

We are experienced in working with children of a range of ages and abilities.  We understand the need for explorative learning and incorporate sensory opportunities. Our Toys from the Past visit into SEN schools is less structured and will try to meet the needs of the children. Please get in touch to discuss your specific class and their needs with us.  We can visit in costume but not in role (to reduce confusion).


For more images of Moving Toys see our Toys Gallery.


Any of the above activities, including Victorians, can be booked at the costs quoted below, which covers the service itself, to be delivered by either or both of us, dependent on your area and other factors (see our Terms and Conditions).  However, the Making Push and Pull Toys Workshop incurs an extra charge of £1.00 per pupil on top of the below fees.


The costs quoted below cover the service which can be delivered by one or two Specialists, dependent on your area and other factors (please see our Terms and Conditions).  Full days can be booked up to one hour's drive from our base.  Reduced full days, half days and bookings where both Specialists are required can take place in schools up to forty minutes drive from our base.


Full Day - (One Specialist, 9am-3pm)

The full day rate is £265.00 from Autumn 2018 plus mileage (55p per mile round trip from LE9 9HG)

Reduced Full Day - (One Specialist, 10am-3pm)

The reduced full day rate is £220.00 from Autumn 2018 plus mileage (55p per mile round trip from LE9 9HG)

Full Day - Double Rate (Two Specialists)

The full day rate for two Specialists is £320.00 from Autumn 2018 plus mileage (£1.10 per mile round trip from LE9 9HG)

Half day

Half days can incorporate some of the above sessions. The cost for ½ day is £170.00 from Autumn 2018 (55p per mile round trip from LE9 9HG)


Two classes of children, engaging in the handling session for half a day - £170.00 plus mileage.

Three or more classes of children, engaging in a Victorian Visit (to include Toys from the Past sessions) for a full day - £265.00 plus mileage.

Sixty children, engaging in a Toys from the Past Visit (to include Making Push & Pull Toys Workshops for all) for a full day - £325.00 plus mileage.


These rates are complete and there are no hidden costs.  Confirmation of booking is taken as a contract between the school and The Specialists and acceptance of our T & C's.

Greg and Lisa McCarthy have many years of experience working with children. Greg is a teacher and Lisa a former Occupational Therapist in learning disabilities. Both have full CRB's and public liability insurance.


Making Push and Pull Toys Workshop