Ancestry UK

The Barnardo Rule Book

In 1944, as an adjunct to its recently established training programme, Barnardo's issued a confidential staff handbook, providing detailed guidance on every aspect of life in its homes. The "Barnardo Book" included sections on such matters as the daily routine, health, maintenance of discipline, and sex education.



For private circulation only.


When children come home from school in the evening and during the school holidays, there will be free time to be spent. Even in the best regulated families and Homes this time is not always happy. The children may lack facilities or toys, they may quarrel with one another or get difficult or out of hand; in other cases they may dawdle aimlessly about, apparently with no desire to do anything at all.

Those who have had much experience of children are now able to tell us something of the way in which their minds and bodies work and how they can be occupied, not only to keep them happy but to develop their growing powers. Those suggestions which result from that experience may seem rather difficult to attain and no doubt, at first, the collection of material and the making of plans will take time and trouble but that initial care and labour are amply rewarded when useful and happy leisure time is finally achieved.


The child is born into a family and normally every child has a home, a father and mother, and very often brothers and sisters, too. Nowadays we know that every one who is running a Home for children has to ensure that everything possible is done to avoid the atmosphere of an Institution and to make things like a real home. Not always however is care taken to arrange any or all of the following:

Do the walls of the playrooms, hall, stairs and passages look bright and cheerful with suitable pictures like a really well-appointed nursery? Posters, pictures from books and pictures for children of varying ages can still be bought from the educational supply shops. These can be hung at various heights for different ages. They should be changed at fairly frequent intervals and the children would love to assist in selecting them and hanging them, too.

Most children as they grow older are given or acquire a number of their own possessions. Children who grow up in a group in a "Home" are likely to suffer from the lack of something of their own. Some personal possessions are vitally necessary to the development of every youngster. If possible arrange that each child shall have a cupboard or locker or part of a shelf, or a bag on a peg in which to keep things of his or her own. A large number of toys and books may be difficult to obtain in war-time, but it is still possible to beg some and to make others. Each toy or book should be distinctive (or labelled) and each child should learn to respect the property of the others. Each child's store of possessions should be added to continually by things he or she makes.

Not only do children need possessions—they also need parents. Many of the temperamental difficulties which arise among a group of children in a Home may be due to the lack of the affection and attention of one particular person by each child. Of course, no one can really take the place of the father and mother under those circumstances, but if there are a number of assistant workers in a Home or voluntary helpers available, something can be done. Try to arrange that a particular helper is responsible for a small group of the children either at certain times or for certain purposes—so that each child in the small group feels that he belongs to that helper and she to him.

In the average home the small child spends much time following mother about and seeing what she does. Great is the child's delight when he or she is allowed to help with the cooking or washing or scrubbing or dusting or even gardening. In a Home in which the staff is busy the tendency often is to keep the children away when work has to be done. If, however, it can possibly be arranged for groups of them from time to time, even when they are only five or six years old, to assist in cooking or washing or housework or gardening—while it must not delay the staff unduly, it will give great pleasure to the children and promote this element of family life which they need for normal growing-up,

Leisure-Time Activities.

In planning leisure-time activities it is desirable to divide children into age groups. The needs of the children will vary as they grow older. A suitable grouping is as follows :

5-7 years, 7-11 years, 11-14 years.

If and when there are two or more members of a family in a Home, they should be given ample opportunity for meeting and playing together—so that the older ones of the family can mother the younger ones. Such mothering should not be allowed to become a drag on the older members of a family and for certain times and games the various members of the same family should mix with their own age groups.

These younger children are still really at the Nursery School age and there are many possible occupations for them both indoors and out of doors. They need considerable space for movement and, like their older brothers and sisters, should be allowed to "make a bit of a mess." They can usually help to clear the mess up fairly easily. They need supervision so that they do not harm themselves and in order that they may be assisted and encouraged in their efforts.

Play for this age group can be described under four headings:

(a) Physical Activities.

Indoors they can have a swing fixed to a beam in the ceiling. Balls and small wooden bats can be used for a variety of games. Skittles and small jumping stands are also useful.

Outdoors they can have the same equipment as indoors but this time the swing needs the stout branch of a tree or a strong frame. A wooden slide with no splinters gives endless delight, and so does a climbing frame or jungle gymnasium. Hoops, skipping ropes, tricycles, trucks and barrows to push also provide much interest and exercise the growing muscles.

(b) Imitative Play.

The small child of this age group loves to play at what he has seen adults doing.

A small house can be made, if necessary of wood and hessian. It needs to be long enough for the children to play in and should be furnished with small beds, chairs, a table and tea set. (If space is limited the hessian can be put round clothes horses and the whole thing folded up when not in use.)

Other requisites for imitative play are: prams, dolls, dolls’ beds, brushes, brooms, dustpans, tea sets, pastry-making sets, cloths for polishing. (Dolls' bedstead can be made out of tomato boxes and the bedclothes can be made from odd pieces of material.) Dressing-up clothes cause much excitement. Boys like particularly boxes of soldiers and engines.

Out of doors in the garden, boys and girls like to garden with small spades, trowels and forks.

(c) Constructive Play.

All sorts of materials can be provided with which the young child can experiment and attempt to make and do. A box of padlocks and keys will cause much interest. Wooden blocks size 3 in. by 6 in. can be used to build all sorts of erections.

Plasticine, coloured paper to cut and stick, paints, chalks, crayons, a simple printing set, simple jig-saw puzzles, hammering toys, are all essential. Outside, pieces of wood, nails and hammers can be used without harm if there is some supervision. All sorts of odd materials like match boxes, cotton reels, etc. can be used to make a variety of exciting things.

Sand provides an excellent play material. A sand pit in the garden (which is well drained and has a wire netting cover to exclude cats, etc.) is a constant source of joy. A sand tray about 4 ft. by 4 ft. on legs can be filled with damp sand and used indoors. Spades, spoons, buckets, pastry tins, etc., can be used as toys.

Individual sand trays can also be furnished. Seed boxes can be lined with American cloth and filled with dry sand. These can be placed on tables at which the children sit. Bottles, cosmetic pots and tea spoons are needed as toys.

Water play is most important and need not be difficult. A tin bath or two and some bowls are necessary. Bottles, funnels and rubber tubing are used as toys. Clay pipes for blowing bubbles are much enjoyed. (Each child needs an apron which can be made from American cloth or balloon fabric.)

Clay is also admirable play material. Ordinary potter's clay is required. It should be kept moist and rolled in balls in a tin. Each child needs an apron and a slab of linoleum on which to do the modelling. Sticks, blunt knives and small rolling pins are helpful for the modelling. A bowl of water in which the children can wet their hands frequently is also necessary.

(d) Organised Play.

Indoors small children love singing games. The Oxford Nursery Song Book by Buck. Gramophone Records and the Wireless are indispensable in any playroom. Out of doors small children like chasing games, jumping and easy racing.

Children of this age group will enjoy some of the activities described for the younger age group, but they are growing older and as they do, their interest broadens and they are able to make things as well as experiment. On the whole it is better to stimulate a child by encouraging him to beat his own record rather than to enter into competition with others. In certain games and activities some competition is inevitable, but it should not be overdone, because it tends to destroy co-operation which is one of the important things to foster during this period.

During this stage boys and girls desire to collect and hoard. Such things as conkers, marbles, cigarette cards, silver paper — and later, picture postcards, stamps, butterflies or wild flowers. This collecting should be encouraged.

Sex differences become marked during this period, and boys tend to make friends with boys and girls.

Girls enjoy mostly:

Family and school play.

Dressing up and acting.

Sewing, decorating, designing and painting.

Fairy stories up to nine years.

Myths and legends and adventure stories and school stories.

Animal stories, from nine to eleven years.

Boys like especially:


Constructive activities like Meccano.

Model trains.

Both boys and girls like :

Puzzles and games such as ludo, snap, snakes and ladders.

Potato and lino printing.

Books of all kinds.

Both boys and girls like active outdoor games with balls, hoops, skipping ropes, tops. Team games and athletics, if well taught, with a good referee not only give much enjoyment but teach the particular skill required and team spirit and fair play.

At this stage a Brownie Pack for the girls and Wolf Cub Pack for the boys are both excellent.

The girl and boy are now growing into early adolescence. They tend to become more independent and will probably develop some attachment to an older person, i.e. "hero-worship." Close friendship with a member of the same sex is common.

At this stage the child wants a certain amount of freedom with his capabilities. A small amount of pocket money to be spent as he or she chooses is desirable and if possible some choice in the clothes to be worn. Only by exercising these limited choices can responsibility for personal possessions and appearance be learned.

Again much of the same material used for occupations with the seven to eleven-year-olds can be used for this age group, but more advanced books and games will also be required.

Indoors.—Halma, chess, patience. More advanced jig-saw puzzles. More advanced carpentry, if possible directed by a carpenter for the boys. Sewing and embroidery, possibly making their own clothes, for the girls. Darts, deck-quoits, table tennis. Outdoors.—Cricket, football, netball, tennis, swimming, hiking. Sometimes a party at which there can be round party games, a "beetle drive," a fancy-dress parade, a treasure hunt. From time to time a concert with some community singing and a few first dancing lessons.

At this stage a Guide Company for the girls and a Scout Troop for the boys will provide much interest and give them not only good training but an outlet for their sense of adventure and a love of the country and all things out of doors.