Immerse yourself in life in the 1940s for a day wearing clothing of the time, enjoying children’s entertainments and eating an Oslo lunch, all of which can be researched beforehand.

Reliving life in the 1940s at Chifley Home

Children’s clothing of the 1940s.

With clothing rationed, children’s clothes were often cut down and restyled from worn adult clothes, were hand knitted or were hand-me-downs. Styles were basically scaled down versions of adult clothes. Children often had three sets of clothes – play clothes, school clothes and one good “going out” outfit.


Beetle Game

Each player needs a Beetle card like the one below. Each box is for one game of Beetle. Each player rolls the dice in turn. The player with the highest score goes first with the other players following in a clockwise direction. You must roll a 6 to begin. When you have rolled a 6 you draw a Beetle’s body in the first box on your grid. After that, each time you roll a number, match it with the Beetle numbers to see which part of the Beetle you can draw next. If you draw a 1 you draw an eye; a 3 means a leg. Note that you cannot draw eyes and feelers until you have a head! The first person to draw a complete Beetle winds the round. Twelve rounds make a complete game.

Beetle Numbers

  Game Board




6 Legs..........3 each

2 Feelers..........2 each

2 Eyes..........1each


2. 3.

5. 6.

8. 9.

11. 12.

Billy Carts

Billy carts were made to a basic design, often by children using found or inexpensive materials such as fruit boxes, fence palings and pram wheels and with minimal adult assistance. Instructions to build a simple billy cart:

Card Games

A pack of playing cards was a key source of entertainment for children and adults, individually or in groups, as they were cheap, portable and could be used for more formal games or to challenge players to create their own games. Two games to play on your 1940’s day:

Pass the pack

Players are seated around in a circle and a pack of playing cards is passed around to the music. A rubber band will hold them securely. They are passed from hand to hand face downwards. Every time the music stops, the player holding the pack takes two cards.

When the cards are all used up, the players turn up their cards, total their pips (eleven for a Knave, 12 for a Queen and 13 for a King). The winner is the one with the highest score.


You need a pack of playing cards and at least two players. One person shuffles the cards and deals them face down, one card at a time (starting with the player to the right of the dealer) until all cards have been dealt. The player to the right of the dealer begins by taking the top card from their pile and placing it in the centre of the table face up. Each player follows, placing one card at a time and watching carefully for two cards of the same value to be placed on top of each other. As soon as this occurs, the player calls Snap! and places their hand on top of the pile. If more that one player calls Snap! at the same time, the player with their hand on the bottom adds the cards to their pile. The game continues until one player wins the game by having all of the cards.

ChildrenstoysCrystal Set (Crystal Radio Receiver) – a simple radio. Good background information on

French Knitting - a great way to use odds and ends of wool. The knitted wool can be coiled to make a hat.  French knitting was a way of making odds and ends of wool go further.  The knitted wool can be coiled and sewn together to make a hat. Download fact sheet and instructions.

Hopscotch – a court scratched into the dirt and stones for tors made this a game that could be played anywhere.

Jacks (also known as Knuckles or Knucklebones) – usually a set of five knucklebones (or even stones) and children generally made up their own games although Onesies, Twosies etc was a simple introductory game.

Jigsaw Puzzles

Use colourful pictures from old calendars or greeting cards to make jigsaw puzzles. Glue the pictures to discarded cardboard (backs of writing pads, packaging), mark with a pencil and cut out. Share with your friends.


Paper Dolls – available commercially, a basic paper cut out doll could be clothed in a variety of paper outfits attached to the body by folded tabs. This craft has seen a revival amongst enthusiasts and examples are to be found on websites.

Peg Dolls – dolly pegs used for laundry were fashioned into dolls by painting on features and clothes or creating clothes from scraps of material. Arms could be added using pipe cleaners. Families or groups could be made and dolls houses constructed from shoe boxes and scrap cardboard with furniture made from match boxes and material. Great scope for creativity!

Playground games: marbles, hoops, skipping, chasings, hidings.

Oslo Lunch

In the 1940’s, the Norwegian –inspired healthy Oslo lunch was introduced to schools. Consisting of a salad sandwich made on wholemeal bread, a bottle of milk and a piece of fresh fruit, this style of school lunch had positive effects on children’s health and learning. Sandwiches were wrapped in greaseproof paper and, together with an apple, orange or banana, distributed in a brown paper bag. School tuckshops introduced variations adding bread rolls as alternatives to sandwiches and a variety of fillings such as tomato, cheese, vegemite or peanut butter.