Historical information

School children learned to write using a slate From 1880’s to mid 1950’s in most schools, very young children first learned to write their letters in sand trays using their fingers or a stick. When about 6, they progressed onto writing on slates . The board was made from a piece of quarry slate set in a wooden frame. A slate pencil (not chalk) was used to form the letters. This slate pencil was often sharpened on the school wall. The advantage of slates over paper was that they could be wiped clean and used again and again. Until the mid 20thC paper was expensive . After the pupil wrote on the Slate, the work was checked by the teacher and then erased for a new task Children had to bring a dampened cloth or sponge to school so that they could clean the slate and start again.


The pioneer settlers in the Moorabbin Shire area valued education and established schools for their children in Cheltenham and East Brighton c1860's This writing slate is typical of the type used up to the mid 20th Century in preparatory classes.

Physical description

A writing slate in a wood frame used by school children from c1880s to c1950s