History, artefacts and storytelling in the 2011 primary curriculum

Primary History article

By Grant Bage, published 9th August 2010

Please note: this article pre-dates the 2014 National Curriculum and some content may be outdated.

This article will argue that although history can seem a ‘hard' discipline for young children, it can be made accessible and exciting through telling stories about objects. The article does not contain advice about obtaining objects: that can best be found elsewhere in this Journal and from many other sources.

What it does do is to summarise seven learning approaches to foster ‘English and Communication' (particularly speaking and listening) alongside ‘Historical Understanding'. All these approaches have artefacts at their heart.

But before thinking about objects, let us contemplate the subject...

History as Subject

History is what we make of the past, with ‘make' meaning both to understand and to manufacture. What we make history from, when we are ‘doing history' well, is ‘evidence'. Evidence of, and from, the past is the raw material from which history is hewn.

So where, as busy educators, can we find ‘historical evidence'? And having found some, what should we do with it?

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