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 resource), you can see about 20 different roles pupils can take on. Not only does it make the learning more meaningful and exciting, it also allows pupils to work collaboratively and in a problem-solving way.
I would urge you to consider varying the role of the learner two or three times during each topic. Try a few out for yourself. You’ll be amazed how well the pupils respond. Just getting them to help out a hopeless Ancient Egyptian embalmer, or to take on the role of an expert historical adviser to a film crew making a movie in a Tudor palace, will bring learning alive and raise the quality as well as the motivation. This section of the site draws on the excellent work of Grant Bage at the School of Education at Cambridge University in the late 1990s, brought up to date and enlivened with practical examples of impressive classroom use I have observed.