Open accessibilty tools

Teddy Bear: ‘Guisborough Ted’ (about 1900)

Teddy bears were named after an American president (leader) called Theodore Roosevelt – people called him ‘Teddy’ for short.

Talking about old toys

Use the questions below to talk with children about old teddy bears. Talk about the teddy bear here, or use the questions to explore old teddy bears you and the children may have brought in to your classroom or setting.

Look at its face, body, arms, legs, feet – how many different details can you describe?

Try turning it into a game. After one whole minute of looking, take the teddy away or close your eyes. How many details can you remember?

Look at it again.

  • What did you remember?
  • What did you forget?
  • What else did you see this time?

This is an old teddy bear. His name is Guisborough Ted.

  • Guisborough Ted’s arms and legs can be carefully moved up and down where they join on to his body, but each arm and leg is very stiff.
  • His head can be moved carefully from side-to-side but not up and down.

Look carefully at all the different parts of this toy – his fur, his nose, his eyes and ears. What do you think he might be made of? What do you think might be inside his body and his arms and legs?

  • His fur was made from a material called mohair, which was made from goat’s hair. Have you ever stroked a goat? Their hair is quite soft, but can be a bit scratchy.
  • His nose was made using cotton thread.
  • He was stuffed with wood-wool. Wood-wool is another name for wood shavings, which are quite hard and crunchy.
  • His eyes are made from wood. Other old bears had eyes made from glass or leather (which is usually used to make shoes).

We have to be careful about cuddling Guisborough Ted now because he is so old. But he would probably feel quite hard and scratchy because of the wood-wool and mohair.

This toy is more than 100 years old – that’s even older than your grannies and grandads.

  • The thread used to make his nose is coming undone and his fur has been rubbed away in some places – like on his paw. This might be because someone has cuddled him so much.
  • Old teddy bears like Guisborough Ted were made to look a bit more like real bears than the teddies we have today. They had longer noses and smaller eyes.
  • Teddy bears have been one of the most popular children’s toys for over 100 years.
  • They are often a child’s first toy and very very loved. Many children love their teddy bears so much they keep them until they are adults.
  • This bear first belonged to a girl called May Blackett.
  • When she was older she gave him to Guisborough women’s cricket club, in 1918. They brought him to their cricket matches to bring them luck.
  • Guisborough Ted now belongs to Kirkleatham Museum, who take good care of him.
  • What might this toy have seen in his long life?
  • What journeys or adventures might he have been on with the cricket club?
  • Do you think he had other toy friends..?

Exploring old toys through play

Children could try moving like an old teddy.

Can they move their arms up and down, keeping them very stiff?

Or carefully move their heads from side-to-side without blinking their eyes?

Can they walk like a teddy bear – keeping their legs stiff?

Can they move like a floppy, cuddly teddy bear from today?

Teddy bear activities

Looking closer

Give children a piece of paper divided into four sections (or more if you want to make it more challenging).

Looking carefully at the picture of Guisborough Ted, or an old teddy bear in your classroom, ask children to make a simple drawing in each section of their paper. Each drawing should show a different part of the toy. It could be a paw, nose, an arm or just a shape they can see or a colour. Older children could label their drawing.

Teddy bear ‘little books’

Children could make a ‘little book’ about Guisborough Ted – or an old teddy that belongs to someone they know.

This video shows you how to make a little book here.

They could fill the pages with:

  • A labelled drawing or photograph
  • Teddy facts – what is it made from, how old is it, where does it live?
  • Ideas from their imaginations – why it might be special to someone, what memories might it have, where has it journeyed to, does it have a magic power?
  • A story about the teddy bear’s adventures.

Children could take a look at this example from Sam in Redcar, who made a little book about his Grandma’s teddy.

Young historians

What questions do children have about old teddy bears? Encourage them to think carefully about something they would really like to find out about Guisborough Ted or an old teddy bear in your classroom. They could take it in turns to hold a large question mark, and think of a question beginning with Who, Where, Why, What, When or How.

Where could they find out the answers? They could: