Key stage 2 history

Welcome to the Key Stage 2 section of Keystage history where you will find masses of advice on how to make history both fun and satisfyingly challenging. You will be helped to design and plan an exciting primary history curriculum, for a September 2014 start,taking into account the difficult areas of assessment and progression.

This is a tricky process at Key Stage 2. It is easy to lose continuity if you are not careful. You will be shown which skills and concepts are best developed in which contexts along with examples of key questions that have proved most effective in deepening learning. 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 history planning, literacy, thinking skills and creativity.

Planner for Britain at War: The Home Front 1939-45

The detailed downloadable planner below has key questions, suggested activities, resources and assessments for teaching The Home Front in World War Two at KS2 and links with the lessons on the site. Although no longer compulsory within the new 2014 National Curriculum, this topic has been...
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Great starter on interpretations of Henry VIII

Working closely with academic authors, in this case Catherine Fletcher, always gives a fascinating insight into what historians want to write and publishers want to sell.  This is fertile ground for exploring the question of interpretations with pupils at KS2 and KS3. With this simple...
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Outstanding Scheme of Work for Stone Age to Iron Age

This scheme of work, judged outstanding by an OFSTED history inspector now links to all the fully-resourced outstanding lessons and activities making the teaching of this topic completely self-contained. Not only does it ensure that you cover all the significant content, and develop key historical...
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Outstanding medium-term planner for Vikings

This KS2 Vikings planner, judged outstanding by an OFSTED history inspector now links to all the fully-resourced outstanding lessons and smart tasks making the teaching of this topic completely self-contained. Not only does it ensure that you cover all the significant content, and develop key...
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Top ten ingredients of a good KS2 post-1066 thematic unit.

Teaching Crime and Punishment as a post-1066 thematic unit at KS2 For a while now, a number of schools have been developing interesting thematic units that span 1,000 years and which redress the KS2 imbalance of pre-and post-1066 thematic studies. One of the most successful appears...
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Thinking words in primary history: my top 10

Thinking words in primary history: my top 10 Those of you who have used a lot of the lessons on the site will know only too well that I am a great believer in asking children to express their degrees of confidence in making assertions about...
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The Victorian Era: Dark Age or Golden Age?

This is the concluding lesson on the Victorians.  It starts with a plate and a poster commemorating the achievements of Victorian Britain to set it in an international context.  Pupils are then invited to weigh up the bad aspects of the reign before arriving...

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Roles of learners in history at Key Stage 2

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.  Shown on the accompanying diagrams (see  downloadable...
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Vikings: What were they like?

This lesson gives the topic on the Vikings a really active start. Pupils are placed in role as Saxon spies who have to find out what makes the Vikings' boats so special.  You'll love the technique known as reconstruction relay, because after the fast...

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Ancient Greece: Short task on using Greek pots

What can I do with just one Greek pot in the resource cupboard? Collaborative and creative storyboarding At the core of this activity is the development of pupils' creative imagination and their sense of the past as evidence for just one object.  To make it work...
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Ancient Greece: Citizenship

This full lesson is a role-play activity looking at Greek democracy in the context of the rebuilding of the Parthenon. It starts with a link to the building of the Millennium Dome. In Ancient Greece, anyone who did not fulfil their democratic duties was called an...
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What was life like for women in Ancient Greece?

This simple lesson on life for women in Ancient Greece, based around a PowerPoint presentation, makes an excellent contribution to literacy and also makes pupils aware of the nature of evidence and the need to be careful when making generalisations.  The children draw conclusions from...
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Teaching history using the Olympic Games KS2 and KS3

We thought we would offer you a range of different cameos showing how the history of the Olympics could be imaginatively integrated into your current teaching.

The teaching activities below have all be tried and tested in schools and have been judged outstanding by...

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Embalming the dead in Ancient Egypt KS2

Helping the Hopeless Embalmer

This really fun lesson, in the style of 'mantle of expert', asks the children to help the Hopeless Embalmer whose boss has left him in charge of preparing the bodies for the afterlife.  Unfortunately, the embalmer is slow to understand and needs...
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Ancient Egyptian after-life lesson KS2

Understanding the Book of the Dead: from page to stage

Using simple drama techniques to make a very old document come alive, this lesson involves pupils becoming the characters in the pictures of the Book of the Dead so that they can personalise what...

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Lesson using evidence of Life in Ancient Egypt KS2

Crimewatch Ancient Egypt: Tomb Robbers

This fun activity is a brilliant way of developing pupils’ deductive thinking skills in a realistic context.  Pupils are cast in the role of police detectives trying to solve a 3,000 year old crime, one with a difference.  This...

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Imaginative learning activities at Key Stage 2

This section accompanies the ones on teaching and learning approaches. It offers you a few ideas you may not have tried for a while, or at least not within the current topic.  It is always a good idea to whet pupils' appetite for a topic...
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KS2 Quick Quiz on the Vikings

This exit task is a quick way of working out whether the key messages of your teaching about the Vikings have been understood and is best done towards the end of this KS2 topic so that you still have time to remedy any misapprehensions. But first...
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Linking history with numeracy; a Tudor enquiry

More glass than wall? Is this a fair description of Hardwick Hall? And how do we find out?

This SMART task links history with numeracy asking pupils to apply numeracy techniques to a famous historical building.  Pupils are shown a photograph of an early Tudor building,...
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Primary History: Teaching Victorian Britain Key Stage 2

Astonishingly, at a stroke, Gove has removed the Victorians from the KS2 history curriculum where it had reigned supreme for decades. At least he thinks he has. Most primary teachers will not give up this topic without a struggle so will either use their locality...
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Teaching Life in Tudor Times for KS2

The world has gone mad! Gove has axed the Tudors from Key Stage 2 history. My advice. Carry on regardless. It is too good a learning experience for pupils for them to miss out on. if you want to see how you could infiltrate...
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Forward planning in history at Key Stage 2

This section ties in with the others on prioritising and monitoring and the message is basically the same.  You need to be clear about:
  • What you are trying to improve, and why?
  • What specific objectives you hope to achieve, and by what date?
  • What success criteria you will...
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Prioritising your work as history leader

When there is so little non-contact time to lead history, it is crucial that you spend your time wisely. This is easier said than done, when it inevitably means that important jobs just don't get tackled as quickly as you would like.  So what should...
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Monitoring in history at Key Stage 2

You will, at some stage, need to monitor standards and the quality of learning in history.  The quality of teaching will also need to be looked at,  but how you do this will need to be discussed with the headteacher, as it is highly sensitive. ...
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Raising attainment in history at Key Stage 2

The prospect of raising attainment across the whole key stage is quite daunting, especially when you consider how little non-contact time you have to devote to history.  You can waste the little precious time you have doing 'busy' work which actually makes little impact on...
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Self-evaluation in history at Key Stage 2

With the emphasis of school improvement and OFSTED inspection now firmly placed on self-evaluation this has become one of the most important sections of the site.  What you will find are a number of development grids and a series of questions.  The grids are designed...
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Personalised learning in history at KS 2

This is certainly one of the key areas to be focusing on in the next few years and lies at the heart of the government's Every Child Matters agenda.  The best place to go for a summary of personalised learning is the government's website . But a few...
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Gender issues in history at Key Stage 2

It is hard to think of a teaching and learning strategy that one would use with boys.  We all know that boys seem to like more active approaches, but so would many girls.  When I analyse the research evidence it seems to me to conceal...
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S.E.N. in history at Key Stage 1 and 2

By inclusion we mean three things here: setting suitable learning challenges, responding to pupils' diverse needs, and overcoming potential barriers to learning and assessment for individuals and groups.  Below are featured a range of ideas for differentiation that you might like to try.  Later additions...
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Progression by strand in history at KS 2

One of the most important tasks that a history subject leader carries out is that of helping colleagues to build progression into pupils' learning. With Key Stage 2 being the longest key stage, there is a danger that pupils simply learn different content in each...
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Assessment for learning in Primary history

Assessment for Learning is much-vaunted and many-faceted.  If we break down what it means in its constituent parts, many of you will feel that you do most of that already, and you probably do. What we need is a consistent, coherent, whole-school approach so that...
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Target setting in history at Key Stage 2

With the emphasis that the Primary Strategy places on Assessment for Learning and the sharing of objectives, it would seem that target setting might be the natural next step.  Whilst this might be true of the Core subjects, I think that with Foundation subjects there...
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Judging pupils’ work at Key Stage 2

Teachers' failure to carry out any useful diagnostic, formative or summative assessment in history at Key Stage 2  has come under heavy criticism in all recent OFSTED reports.  So we need to address the issue. What is proposed here is that you focus on assessing pupils'...
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Common assessment tasks in history at Key Stage 2

Many colleagues who have been sceptical about assessing history at Key Stage 2 have been won over by this simple approach which aims to give good diagnostic feedback to you and the pupils by using a number of simple tasks.  We have provided some common...
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Principles of good assessment in history at Key Stage 2

As OFSTED reports have pointed out for many years, assessment in history is not strong in most schools and the situation is not really improving.  Part of the problem has always been with the NC levels. Thankfully they have now been abandoned and have no...
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Evacuation enquiry – links with numeracy KQ2

This lesson comes towards the beginning of the topic after pupils have explored the nature and reasons for evacuation. I am grateful to Julie Tzivanidou of Cove Junior School, near Farnborough , for providing the original version of the PowerPoint presentation.

Learning objectives

  • pupils learn to...
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How to teach Ancient Greece to Key Stage 2

Teaching Ancient Greece in the 2014 history curriculum.  To all intents and purposes, the ancient Greek planning and all the outstanding lessons fit just as perfectly with the new curriculum from 2014 as well as the existing one.  The only difference might be is where...
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Grasping the chronology nettle

Everyone knows that chronology is one of the key historical concepts pupils need to learn, and yet in very few schools is it given serious attention.  Unless the subject  leader makes a determined attempt to plan for the progressive development of chronological understanding across...

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’100′ great ideas for teaching history at KS 2

This section describes the best of the imaginative ideas I have seen work successfully in the teaching of history at Key Stage 2. The figure'100' is in inverted commas because it is rather an arbitrary number and it will inevitably increase as more and more...
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