Up Pompeii: studying a significant event at Key Stage 1

Primary History article

Susan Townsend, last updated: 10th July 2019

‘The ashes now began to fall upon us, though in no great quantity. I looked back; a dense dark mist seemed to be following us, spreading itself over the country like a cloud … We had scarcely sat down when night came upon us not such as we have when the sky is cloudy, or when there is no moon, but that of a room when it is shut up and all the lights put out.’ Pliny the Younger

And I am there. Pliny the Younger’s words transport me to another place and I can visualise the scene. The time is 1,940 years ago and the place is Pompeii but when you read the words, it does not seem as if it is from someone so long ago. I can relate to his imagery and imagine what he is actually seeing. I want children to feel the same way and become emotionally engaged with the event.

So the date is 79 AD and the event is the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. How might a study of this event help children at Key Stage 1 develop an understanding of the characteristic features of the time and engage and interest them – what has been referred to as highlighting the ‘awe and wonder’ of history?...

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