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.

Starting the enquiry into Ancient Greece KQ1 part 1

How can we possibly know so much about the Ancient Greeks who lived over 2,500 years ago? Any study of ancient Greek society must begin with an appreciation of the physical features of Greece. Landform and climate do not explain the vast and varied achievements of...
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New written source for KQ3 on Baghdad

Our planning and lessons on Islam have gone down a storm. We are constantly trying to improve all our lessons as new resources and ideas are tried by our subscribers. A great new written source describing Baghdad in detail is a great help to pupils...
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Short KS2 task on the Ancient Greek legacy: language. KQ6b

This is a fun activity looking at the contribution the Ancient Greeks have made to our language. Great for literacy.  Pupils are given two different stories of 10 year-old children today, buried in which are 20-odd words that derive from Ancient Greece.  Working in pairs,...
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Keeping your teaching of the Maya at KS2 up-to-date.

Key point 1 Historical opinion is changing all the time often in light of new evidence, literally. The latest technology using lasers has enabled archaeologists to discover up to 60,000 hidden Mayan buildings in present-day Guatemala. Unfortunately they can't be dated. Most of these are houses,palaces...
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Why did Britain have to go to war in 1939? KQ1

Pupils learn the sequence of events leading to the Second World war before a lively role-play debate in which they exchange well-rehearsed arguments verbally in the House of Commons and then write tight summaries of the key arguments for both sides. Step 1 Start with the puzzling...
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Planning for teaching Ancient Greece KS2

Outstanding new medium term planning for Ancient Greece, matched to 2016 history national curriculum The main foci throughout this planner are: Ideas, Beliefs, Attitudes (especially the role of women); Way of life (contrasting Athens with Sparta and grasping that ideas flourished in a society where there...
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Why did punishments become so bloody in the 18th century? KQ4

Pupils label their own copy of a motivating Hogarth print showing popular attitudes to public executions before explaining the puzzling conundrum: when the number of death penalties was increased why did the number of executions actually go down?  Really good thinking skills stuff. Learning Objectives
  • Pupils...
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Outstanding Scheme of Work for teaching the Anglo Saxons

You’ll probably be thinking that there is an awful lot of pre-1066 British history in the KS2 curriculum with the Anglo-Saxons being particularly prominent. The way round this, I think, is to skilfully link your teaching of the Saxons and the Vikings so the interrelationship...
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Planner for Britain at War: The Home Front 1939-45

The new  detailed downloadable planner ( July 2017) 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. It has been released, on teachers' request, prior to...
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Why did Germany lose the Battle of Britain?

If Britain was only a few days away from defeat in August 1940 how on earth did she win the Battle of Britain a month later?

PLEASE NOTE - This lesson was aimed at Key Stage 3 but should be capable of being used with minimal...
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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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Teaching Anglo-Saxons & Vikings for Key Stage 2

With effect from 2014, the new National Curriculum has afforded separate status for individual units of work on the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings. Whilst this may be applauded in some circles, it has increased the amount of pre-1066 history to be learned, at the expense of...
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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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What was life like for women in Ancient Greece? KQ2 part 3

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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Embalming the dead in Ancient Egypt KS2: KQ5

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: KQ5 part 2

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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Using evidence of Life in Ancient Egypt KS2: KQ4

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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