5 quick ideas to help you to develop pupils’ genuine historical understanding at KS1 and 2

  1. Try to develop a sense of adventure which motivates the pupils. The new lesson on Ancient Egypt has pupils planning an archaeological trip to Egypt, deciding where to visit , what they need to take with them etc.
  2. Try to make it relevant by linking to to today, wherever possible. The great new lesson on the Greek legacy does just this but so do the new Egypt lessons which explain how historians have only gradually unfurled its mysteries. Pupils consider why so many people are still attracted to visit the pyramids of ancient Egypt today.
  3. Focus on developing pupils as historical detectives, working with clues, rather than passive recipients of someone else’s thinking.  A good example is the KS2 topic on Stone Age to Iron age in which pupils. have to solve the mystery of the 52 bodies at Maiden castle. Another is the great Tomb Robbers mystery in the Ancient Egypt outstanding lessons section.
  4. But be careful to strike a balance between teacher-directed context providing and allowing pupils to get to grips with genuine historical questions and issues. This will involve them in asking as well as answering questions, researching evidence and communicating their ideas in a range of different ways. This could be a short YouTube video on the processes of mummification
  5. Make good use of historical sites and of visitors into the classroom, ensuring that you give enough context so that pupils know which questions to ask.
  6. Avoid the twin temptations of imparting too much historical knowledge all at once and also of telling the children to ‘find out’ without explaining which historical skills they will be using or developing in so doing
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