A key reason why we originally established Portals to the Past was because we simply love inspiring children.
There is nothing more motivating for a teacher than seeing a child’s eyes light up as they are learning, and that is what we aim to do with every lesson we deliver – to leave children buzzing with excitement and new found knowledge, and an experience they will never forget.
History is such a rich and colourful subject and there are many ways you can help inspire your class to enjoy learning about the past. Here’s five ideas:
A change of scene and a few hours out of the classroom to visit a museum or historic site can really help breathe life into history.
There are so many historic attractions in the UK and most people live within easy reach of a museum, stately home, battlefield or fortification. Many museums and sites now have interactive exhibits for children to keep them busy, so they can touch replicas of period pieces or watch computer animated videos of how people once lived.
Why not combine a visit with a quiz that encourages children to explore and find the answers as they go round? Or, for example, task them to sketch a castle’s battlements and describe the different parts of the fortification.
Unfortunately, as each year passes, there are fewer and fewer people alive who remember World War II – more the reason to encourage children to interview them about their experiences as a child during that eventful period.
Set homework for children to interview and write up an account from their grandparents about their war memories: living on ratios, and maybe being evacuated to the country or seeing planes flying overhead. You could link up with a local retirement home and organise a session where some children interview elderly residents.
With food scarce and often rationed, people had to make a little go a long way during World War II. Bring this alive with a homework that asks children to work with a parent to prepare a simple dish that was common at this time: maybe bread pudding or potato floddies – many more ideas can be found here.
They can write up the recipe and methodology and ask their parents to take a few pictures of them at different stages. Ask them to round-off the task by getting a parent or neighbour to taste the dish and give their verdict.
4. Build a mini-Stonehenge
If your class is studying the Neolithic period then a great idea to inspire children is to ask them to build a model of Stonehenge. This can be done with different materials from cardboard and rolled-up paper to Jenga pieces (that can be returned when finished) or Lego.
Thus naturally leads into further lessons around the lengths ancient people went to build the site and theories about why Stonehenge was constructed.
Most children like to dress up and role play, so build on this natural enthusiasm by asking them to come into school one day dressed in ancient Roman togas or Greek dress. Maybe if you are working with smaller children they could dress up their Teddy Bear or soft toy in a toga.
With the children playing the part – it’s a great starting point to discuss how people lived during this time, learn about the social hierarchy of the period or read up on a Greek myth and perform it as a play.
To find out more about how Portals to the Past can enhance your history teaching call us on 0800 112 3192.