Fun Through Time: Planning a Thematic Unit for KS2

 Activities, Primary  Comments Off on Fun Through Time: Planning a Thematic Unit for KS2
Dec 022017

This is a slightly revised version of an article that appeared in Primary History in Autumn 2017.

It provides guidelines for planning and teaching a unit on ‘having fun across time’ for use in the later years of Key Stage 2 (or possibly Year 7) – investigating questions such as:

‘What did people do for fun in this period?’

‘Were people having fun in the same ways in the Middle Ages as in the Roman or Victorian periods?’

What did our parents and grandparents do for fun when they were children and how different are our activities?’

‘When were the greatest changes and why did they happen?’

However there are deeper purposes too. This enquiry uses the theme of ‘having fun’ (or, if you are in the south, ‘leisure activities’) to reinforce pupils’ chronological understanding and knowledge while at the same time also reinforcing their understanding of the process of enquiry.

You can see the full article HERE …


 Posted by at 2:45 pm

The York coin hoards c.1066-1069 – raw material for intriguing lesson introductions

 Activities, GCSE, KS3, Normans, Primary  Comments Off on The York coin hoards c.1066-1069 – raw material for intriguing lesson introductions
Jun 062016

(c) York MuseumsAmbling through the glorious Yorkshire Museum earlier this year I noticed a case containing a scattering of coins spilling out of a broken pot. As I was just completing a GCSE book on the Norman Conquest I was intrigued to discover that the coins date from the late 1060s.

Further enquiries to the Museum led to an email from the Curator of Numismatics, Andrew Woods, who provided details of three coin hoards found in York from this period.

These notes provide information on these hoards and provide outline ideas for using them in the classroom to introduce events in the north between 1066 and 1070.

Read more [ here ].


 Posted by at 10:56 am

When was it best to live in …?

 Activities, KS3, Primary  Comments Off on When was it best to live in …?
Nov 092015

One of the great pleasures of building up ThinkingHistory has been the chance to see so many creative ideas from other teachers – and this is yet another one.

Dan Kneller has done what I’ve always wanted to do but never got round to – create an overview study of his locality. In Dan’s case it’s Portsmouth – BUT DON’T LEAVE NOW if you are not in Portsmouth! This is a great model of how to set up such an activity for your area and, just as importantly, Dan explains how he was supported and inspired by working with other teachers in his county. Hampshire has a great record of providing local authority support through the work of one of the outstanding local authority advisers, Neil Thompson, and it is wonderful to see Neil’s work continuing through the examples and inspiration of experienced teachers in the county. I’d mention them by name but they’d all be far too embarrassed!

What this has to offer is far more than ‘local history’ although that’s worth exploring as a KS3 topic in its own right. There’s enquiry, chronological knowledge and understanding, how we use evidence to justify statements, what kinds of evidence tell us about our locality at different times and what we can learn from them and a model of how to get a class working collaboratively and effectively – team work, communication etc.

So, having whetted your appetite, read all about it and see the resources [ here ]


 Posted by at 12:15 pm

KS2 History – Skara Brae: discovering a Stone Age community

 Activities, Primary  Comments Off on KS2 History – Skara Brae: discovering a Stone Age community
Dec 292014

Over 30 years ago the first book I wrote was on Prehistoric Britain for KS3 (though ‘Key Stages’ hadn’t been invented then!)

I thoroughly enjoyed working on the book and it sold well but it’s a long time since anyone did any concerted work on prehistory at KS3 so it’s been sitting, neglected, on a bottom shelf for years. The revised KS2 NC however took me back to the book and I began wondering how to use some of the material in ways which might help primary teachers and their students. This set of resources, teaching suggestions and historical background information is the first product of that musing – I hope to add other material on Stonehenge and the Glastonbury Lake Village in due course plus some kind of overview activity on Prehistoric Britain.

One of the attractions of revisiting the Skara Brae material was that it also took me back to Kathleen Fidler’s children’s novel The Boy with the Bronze Axe in which she used the finds from the site very effectively as the stimulus for some of the incidents in the book. I’ve included some extracts from the book amongst these resources as linking the evidence to the extracts may make an enjoyable and revealing activity but I’d also recommend teachers read the book themselves for their own enjoyment!

You can find these materials in two parts here  and here

As ever, please let me know of further suggestions, improvements etc to get more out of this topic.


 Posted by at 10:15 am

KS2 Resources – including Sutton Hoo

 Activities, Primary  Comments Off on KS2 Resources – including Sutton Hoo
Dec 272014

Firstly, we have reorganized the resources on the Sutton Hoo burial.

Re-reading the resources I realised that I hadn’t organized them in the most helpful way. So the two original items have been reorganized into three – two activities plus a set of background information for non-specialist teachers. Here are the links:

Background information here …

Enquiry – what was found at Sutton Hoo? here …

Re-enacting the burial here …

Secondly, we also reorganized all the material in this KS2 section at Xmas 2014 to make it easier for you to relate the activities on the site to the 2014 National Curriculum.

Overall, the resources include activities, discussions of key aspects of teaching and planning and background material particularly aimed at non-specialist teachers. And these have been organised into four sections:

Chronological Understanding

Enquiry: Understanding the Process

Historical Topics

General Teaching Techniques

See the KS2 section here …


 Posted by at 12:34 pm

Are you thinking of teaching about the ancient Maya at KS2?

 Info, NC2014, Primary  Comments Off on Are you thinking of teaching about the ancient Maya at KS2?
Jul 262014

Dr Diane Davies runs workshops for teachers either in their schools or as day workshops in London.

She is one of only two archaeologists in the UK who specializes in the ancient Maya.

Dr. Davies writes:

What does the workshop entail?

The workshop will introduce the participants with little or no prior knowledge to the ancient Maya.  Teachers will leave the workshop equipped with the necessary knowledge to feel comfortable teaching about the ancient Maya in their classroom. Examples of class activities will be provided as well as a resource guide.

Can the topic be applied to other subjects within the primary curriculum?

Knowledge of the ancient Maya can be applied to other subjects such as maths (Maya calendar and system of counting), geography (surviving in a jungle environment), PE (Maya ballgame), art and music.

Why should we study the ancient Maya?

The ancient Maya created and sustained an incredible civilization in a rainforest environment and built spectacular temples, pyramids and palaces without the use of metal tools, the wheel, and domesticated beasts of burden. They were the only civilization in the Americas to develop a fully-fledged writing system. Their precise observations of the movements of the sun, moon and stars combined with their advanced mathematical concepts produced calendars and a level of astronomical knowledge beyond that of their contemporaries in Europe. They were also advanced painters, muralists and ceramicists and we have them to thank for the wonder of chocolate! 

For details see


 Posted by at 1:35 pm