The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly - The Industrial Revolution for Kids and Teachers Illustration

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The Industrial Revolution for Kids

For Kids

There is nothing new about invention. People have always been inventing things to make their life easier. What was new or different about the time period in history that we call "The Industrial Revolution" was that a whole bunch of new inventions were built at about the same time with a common goal - that being to replace a large number of workers with a machine so that goods could be made more rapidly and for less money. That allowed people to buy things they could never afford before. That was good. But there were a lot of bad and downright ugly things about the Industrial Revolution as well.

Many people were put out of work and replaced with machines. People who still had jobs had to work in poorly built factories. The tenement houses built near the factories or attached to them for the workers, were even worse. They were fire traps. Few had running water. Large families lived in one or two rooms. When the adult workers complained about the conditions, factory owners began to hire children, sometimes very young children, some as young as four years old. It was cheaper than hiring adults. Children worked 12-14 hours a day under dangerous conditions. Some were mistreated or whipped if they fell behind in their work.

 Many of the comforts we enjoy today are dependent upon machines, for example machines that generate electricity. Very few people would wish to return to the way things were before the Industrial Revolution, but many new laws had to be enacted and enforced to remove the bad and the ugly, and leave the good.

Kids: Click here to learn more about the Industrial Revolution and play some games

Teachers: Lesson plans and classroom activities for teachers