Nursery teaching historyIt is really important that your Foundation Stage teachers are not put off by the label ‘history’. You could quite rightly argue that the word does not exist in their Early Years curriculum. On the other hand, few will resist the need to talk about ‘the past’ and to help children grasp the notion of evidence. Indeed, they can make little progress in history if these early concepts are not laid down. You will notice that the new EYFS Framework from September 2021 now specifically refers to ‘Past and Present’ among the new Early learning Goals.

Getting the balance right so that it is not just a watered down version of KS1 is crucial. I would recommend a blend of hands-on activities to get the idea of evidence, lots of fictional stories to develop the notion of time past and as study of something from the past that the children can readily relate to. You will know yourself what works well. For me there should be 5 elements.

I would certainly want a topic on myself/family, making sure it was sensitively handled. I would also want to get the idea of evidence by using feely bag full of objects that tell us about people from the present and the past. I am passionate bout using nursery rhymes to get over the concept of the past too. Why didn’t Jack and Jill not just turn on the tap to get some water? Why didn’t Wee Willie Winkie not just use a torch? Why didn’t Polly not just switch the kettle on? Throughout the year I would be frequently using colourful fiction books as a focus for talking about the past and developing pupils’ language. As the year progresses I would want to move from then and now books to those that start to introduce the idea of generations. Finally, I would want to look at a topic such as Toys or Washday in the past, something for pupils to get their teeth into with plenty of objects to handle, role plays and home corners. The sort of things that make the learning really active and exciting.

This section offers a few simple lessons which deal with the main concepts, viz:

• there was a past: we talk about ‘then and now’
• life in the past was different from the present but is still recognisable in many respects
• we can look for clues from the past to help work out what it was like

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Teaching about the past in EYFS

Preparing for the new EYFS framework in September 2021 Although most schools and settings prefer not to refer to history…

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wee willy winkie
Comparing different nursery rhymes: Wee Willie Winkie

This fun lesson uses images and very simple text as well as artefacts. It provides an essential grounding in an…

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polly put the kettle on
Polly put the kettle on. Learning about then and now, past and present

This is one of a series of 3 separate sessions on different nursery rhymes, building up children’s understanding of the…

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Teaching Myself – Muddled Bags

As you would expect, it is far better to start with the children themselves and images of them growing up,…

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Teaching Nursery Rhymes to Key Stage 1

This topic is extremely well suited to children in Year R as part of the Foundation stage curriculum. Not only…

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Jack has forgotten what has happened to him. Can the children help jog his memory?
Using nursery rhymes to develop thinking skills in YR: Jack and Jill and the Queen of Hearts

This lesson was kindly provided by David Cowie and his team at Ringwood Infants C of E School.  Their theme…

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