Enquiry in history at Key Stage 1

History is full of rich and interesting stories, and pupils love to hear them.  Indeed, a good story well-told is an important teaching ploy with infants.  But we want even the very young children to gain experience of working things out for themselves, making their own meaning.  To become active enquirers, we need to shift the centre of gravity of the lesson from the teacher (or video, or PowerPoint) telling, towards helping children to ask and answer questions for themselves.  This will need some careful planning.  In particular, you will need to ensure that the context is appropriate.  I usually rely on the ‘3 Ps’ when deciding on this.

  • Is it about people?
  • Is it puzzling?
  • Is the process one that will help children to think historically?

An example: the Great Fire of London

Once you have the right sort of topic then you can plan the learning. What could a puzzling question be? Not , for sure, why did the Great Fire break out? but rather Why did this Great Fire burn down so many more houses than other fires? You cover many of the same points, but with far more of an air of discovery, and

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