Teaching history at Key stage 1

keystage 1
Welcome to the Key Stage 1 section of Keystage history where you will find masses of advice on how to make KS1 history lessons fun and how to help pupils to take their first steps into the fascinating world that is the past. You will be helped to design and plan an exciting primary history curriculum in line with the requirements of the 2014 National Curriculum taking into account the difficult areas of assessment and progression in history.You also will be helped to make the most of history’s contribution to the whole curriculum by being shown cutting edge practice in the areas of cross-curricular planning, literacy, thinking skills and creativity.
If it is imaginative ideas for KS1 history lessons you are looking for, then you will definitely want to spend time in the teaching section with its hundred great primary history teaching strategies and in the learning section with its wide range of imaginative approaches and brilliant ideas for products that children will love.

As a subject leader, you will find easily accessible advice that is ‘right on the money’. Years of helping hundreds of infant teachers with their history planning, resourcing, and monitoring in history, has enabled me to know exactly what is needed, and which support strategies really work.

How should we remember Grace Darling?

This last key question of 6 on the medium-term planning, focuses on her legacy and why we should commemorate her. It introduces pupils to a number of ways in which people are remembered before inviting them to use their creative imaginations to come up...

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KS1 Medium term planner: The sinking of the Titanic Y2

This topic provides an exciting addition to the usual famous events taught at KS1. Not only is there a clear, compelling narrative that pupils can relate to, it also offers opportunities to develop worthwhile historical concepts such as diversity, causation, consequences, interpretations and source analysis....
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Why weren’t more people saved from the Titanic? KQ5

In this problem-solving activity, pupils have to speculate, using a stimulus image and then evaluate a range of given reasons based on their plausibility, placing them on a spectrum. To demonstrate their understanding pupils complete 3 speech bubbles giving the most important reasons coming from...
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What happened during the Great Fire and how do we know?

This lesson focuses on the idea of evidence and proof. Can pupils find evidence to back up statements made in books? Can they tell which is the strongest piece of evidence to support a statement. By learning how to select the sources which they think...
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What did people do at the seaside 100 years ago? KQ2

From mime to movie. SMART TASK

This fun activity is carried out by children working on tables of six.  Half the class work on one image, the other half  on another interesting image.  Each table is given an A4 colour picture either A or B.  For...
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Planning for a cross-curricular topic on Going to the Seaside

This advice with associated downloadable resource below is for KS1 teachers planning a cross-curricular topic and focuses on how to integrate history, geography, literacy and ICT. Start the topic with a brief discussion with the children about where they are going on their summer...
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The learning process in history at KS 1

Given that this site specialises in giving practical support to busy teachers and subject leaders, you may be surprised to find a section on the theory of learning.  Well, don't worry it is very short! With so much theory and so many research findings...

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Why did the Great Fire burn down so many houses?

This lesson focuses on developing children's powers of explanations.  They will already have looked at the sequence of events and will be able to offer a few simple reasons.  This lesson aims to take them beyond a simple list towards deeper understanding of why this...
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The Gunpowder Plot: Prove it using a gallery of images

This skilfully differentiated lesson places pupils in the role of detectives that have to find evidence to back up statements that have been made about the Gunpowder plot.  They are given responsibility for a range of statements carefully matched to their learning needs.  They work...
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How shall we rebuild London after the Great Fire?

This lesson gives full rein to children's creative flair, disciplined by evidence.  The City of London is offering a prize for the best design for a rebuilt London after the Great Fire.   If the children know the causes well, and they should do after using...
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Grace Darling: setting up the enquiry

This is the first lesson on an enquiry into Grace Darling: what she did, and why she was famous. The kernel of the lesson is a slow reveal activity which works really well on an Interactive White Board.  The key image comes from the...

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Teaching In Living Memory to Key Stage 1

Within living memory is one of the periods of time KS1 pupils need to study. At first sight it might seem obvious that this is the period best suited to Year 1, because it is more familiar. If you think a little longer you may...
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How do we know what holidays were like 100 years ago? KQ3

Designing an authentic Edwardian Seaside Poster

This KS1 history lesson uses the Mantle of the Expert approach to place pupils in role as historical advisers to a film producer.  Their job is to create an historically accurate poster which will trail the new film set...
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Spying on your rival lord’s latest new castle

This is a really fun way of helping children to look closely at the detail of a medieval castle.  They are cast in the role of spies for their local lord ( Earl Fuddy Fuddy), who has an old-fashioned castle.  He has heard that his...
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Bonfire Night when Granny was a girl: Smart Task

These activities have been designed for the new 2014 history curriculum, covering the past within living memory and commemorative events. The three PowerPoint presentations, including copyrighted images of the 1950s and early 60s from Mary Evans picture library give children a flavour of a familiar event...
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Washday in the past; helping the hopeless Mr Lather

The children will be familiar with the range of processes involved in washing clothes in the past.  They will have watched programmes such as Magic Grandad and will have explored a range of artefacts such as a mangle and a dolly-stick/posser.  The aim of...

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Help Tom to fight the Great Fire. Smart Task

This ICT based activity draws heavily on the superb new website created as a joint enterprise by the National Archives, National Portrait Gallery, Museum of London and London Fire Brigade Museum. It appears on the Learning Curve section of the National Archives site. The interactive...
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Roles of learners

One of the best ways of exciting young children in history is to put them in role.  Dorothy Heathcote's approach called Mantle of the Expert invests expertise in the pupils, giving them a real, adult role to play.  On the accompanying diagrams (see downloadables) you can...
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Imaginative history outcomes at Key Stage 1

A key part of motivating infants in history is providing interesting practical products that really stimulate their interest.  When so many young pupils naturally  find it difficult to communicate their ideas in written form, we need other interesting ways of enabling them to show...

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50 imaginative history learning activities for Key Stage 1

This ground-breaking section offers a massive range of ideas, arranged in alphabetical order.  Some of the titles may seem a bit esoteric but experience of working with hundreds of teachers has taught me that we need a short-hand way of describing activities, so that we...
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Are you teaching your KS1 the truth about Guy Fawkes?

In many schools I hear teachers tell the same story about Guido Fawkes. Guy Fawkes was angry at the King and the government for the way it treated Catholics. He then brought together a team of plotters intent on killing the king and his cronies...
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Views of learners on history at Key Stage 1

There has been very little published research on the views of infants on their history work. I think we might be able to predict that most pupils would be positive about their experience, especially if it were taught in a lively way with plenty...

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Why do you think Amy Johnson was famous? Smart Task KQ1

In this session on Amy Johnson (KQ1 on the planner) children learn to: predict from small clues link together disparate pieces of evidence and draw conclusions based on the clues they are given. With the help of the slow reveal of the clues in carefully arranged order, pupils build...
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Amy Johnson story-telling relay KS1

How did Amy the secretary end up being the first woman to fly to Australia? Smart Task KQ2

This short, fun activity using mime and props, tells the story of Amy Johnson's first flight to Australia in a way that children will never forget.  Each of...
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KS1 History Mystery. Whatever happened to Amy?

How can we solve the mystery of what happened to Amy Johnson? Smart Task KQ6

This enduring mystery has puzzled historians for over 75 years. New evidence has just come to light which makes this an ideal opportunity for pupils to explore reasons for themselves. Clearly...
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