Thursday, 9 January 2014

History: Now and Then


While you can teach Early Years children facts about history which they can recall, I believe the best way to help children understand the past is to compare the past with now.

For three years in a row now, I have taught my class the Monarchs Song from Horrible Histories. I usually only teach the chorus but this year the children asked for the ‘William the conker’ song so I’ve tried to teach them the entire song.

You can find the lyrics for the songs here. There are lots of fun songs teaching the children about history, however I would listen to the songs first as they can sometimes be inappropriate for the very little ones. I’d particularly avoid Pachacuti and Evil Emperors. (Although, my 6 year old nephew in year two absolutely loves those particular horrible histories!)

Compare Now and Then

I personally believe the easiest way for little children to understand the past is to compare now and then.

For example,

granddad and his mum scan0016
This is my granddad as a child in the late 1920’s. This is me as a child in the late 1980’s (although you could use a photo from a child in your class, or in a different class)

The first thing children may say is that one picture is in colour and one picture is in black and white. This is where you can ask the children which is the oldest picture?

Comparing Ourselves, Now and Then Lesson Plan

I’ve done this lesson with Reception children since I started teaching, however I haven't had the opportunity to do this lesson with Nursery children, I still believe they could access this subject if done in the Summer term with the older children.

planning The ‘When I was a baby..’ lesson takes a look at children’s personal history. It is a good start for establishing ‘past’ as a concept which they can understand. Once the children have a grasp of personal history they are more ready to understand wider world history.

You can download the planning for this lesson here.
sequencing cards Mentioned in the planning is a set of sequencing cards. I simply used pictures I found on Google to appear on the cards so you could make these cards yourself if you’d prefer different photos.

Download the ones I made here.

It is a bit of a writing lesson, but if you wanted to do this lesson in the Autumn term you could scribe for the children and use this activity as a Communication and Language activity.

Comparing the Past Lesson Plan

Once children have a good grasp of their own personal history, we can move on to focusing on history as a whole.

Take a photo of your classroom and compare it to a classroom from the past.

granddad's on the back row clasrrom of now
This is a picture of my Granddad’s classroom in the 1920’s, he’s on the back row in the middle. The classrooms of the past look so different to the classrooms we have now. This classroom is from a catalogue but you can see the difference between the two clearly. Although, of course the children can look around the room to see what is different to the photograph of my Granddad’s classroom.

The lesson plan below includes a homework idea after the plenary. At our setting, a lot of our homeworks are speaking and listening homework to encourage parents to speak to their children but you can adapt this to the best target for your setting.

planning 2 This lesson plan for comparing the past and present contains all the links to the EYFS and some questioning ideas for focus groups.

You could make this a sequence of lessons.

You can download the planning for this lesson here.
what am i cards The What Am I cards are every day normal objects that the children will be familiar with, such as scissors, buckles and pens, but are historical versions.

The cards act as discussion points for an adult led activity.

You can download the What Am I? cards here.
compare cards The compare cards could be used as an independent activity where children find the matching pairs or could be used as a discussion point in a focus group.

The cards compare familiar objects such as computers, footballers, school uniforms and classrooms.

To download the Compare Cards, click here.

Hot Seating

If you have a parent or grandparent from the class, or granddadeven your own parents or grandparents, who would be willing to come to class to discuss their childhood with the children, you could do some hot seating!

Work with the children before hand in a focus group or even as a whole class to think of questions for the older person.

What was it like when they went to school? Did they have to wear a uniform? Was it anything like our uniforms?

What games did you play? Did you have computer early nokiagames? Did you play games on your mobile phone? (Personally I can still remember my first mobile phone with a tiny screen and a huge dialling panel.

Even in that short time, the development of technology from this plastic, simple mobile phone to the colourful, interactive hand held computer phones that we have now can show contrast for the children to explore.

If you have any feedback about these lessons, please leave a comment below.

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