Extending Primary Children's thinking through artefacts

Primary History article

By Yosanne Vella, published 9th August 2010

Please note: this article pre-dates the 2014 National Curriculum and some content may be outdated.

A research project was carried out with Maltese primary school children at San Andrea Infant and Middle school to see if learning strategies could accelerate pupils' cognitive development. The research involved a range of historical sources: artefactual, pictorial and written. This article focuses on pupil responses to an artefact - a man made object.

The most ordinary objects can yield much historical evidence and create various images. They also have the advantage of providing tactile experience which aids investigative learning immensely. Objects are especially useful with the younger pupils, whose reading and writing skills are still not well developed. This article reports on how children responded to an artefact, a19th century Maltese iron, (see Figure 1) before and after intervention sessions. During the intervention sessions the pupils worked on a range of artefacts, see below.

The 19th century iron and the pupils

The iron was presented to pupils for discussion before and after the intervention sessions. The sessions involved three age groups: five, seven and ten year olds. To understand the pupils' thinking 18 pupils were assessed, i.e. 6 triads, 3 per year group. The triad members were balanced by achievement, band and sex.

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