Chronological Understanding

Sequencing, events, stories, pictures and periods over time to show how different times relate to each other and contribute to a coherent understanding of the past. You don’t have to teach topics in chronological order but need to relate the topics you teach to their chronological context.

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  • Coherence in primary history: How can we get children to see that their history links up?

    Article

    No teacher ever wants to claim that their history curriculum is incoherent. All schools want to have a curriculum that is logically ordered and consistent, that has clarity and that holds together. It is easy to assume that how we see this coherence as adults must also translate to the...

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  • Whatever did the Greeks do for us?

    Article

    The National Curriculum asks us to help our children to study ‘Greek life and achievements and their influence on the western world’ [DfE 2013]. Lots of books explore the ancient Greeks [see, for example, Ancient Greece by Alf Wilkinson, Collins Primary Histories, published in 2019]. It is a familiar topic....

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  • Film: How has warfare changed over time?

    Article

    How and why has warfare changed from the Battle of Hastings in 1066, fought with armed with swords and shields, to the weapons of mass destruction of today? This webinar with Andrew Wrenn considers significant turning points such as the impact of gunpowder in the Middle Ages and the development...

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  • Teaching Ancient Egypt: developing subject knowledge

    Article

    Ancient Egypt is one of the most popular societies taught in primary schools. In this article Karin Doull argues the importance of having a coherent approach to the content. Much of the article focuses on the key areas that teachers may wish to consider if they are to achieve a...

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  • Back to basics: How might we organise historical knowledge?

    Article

    There has been much emphasis on pupils having a rich knowledge and this has led to many schools devising knowledge lists and knowledge organisers. This article argues that is a valuable element in a good history curriculum in primary schools but that it is important that this is properly thought...

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  • Ancient Sumer: the cradle of civilisation

    Article

    In 1936 the next eagerly awaited Agatha Christie novel had just been published and readers were transported to a region that, from 1922 had been named Iraq, but through history had been part of Mesopotamia. The plot focuses on an archaeological dig that was taking place there, the victim is...

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  • ‘Come all ye fisher lassies’

    Article

    When considering either ‘changes within living memory’ for Key Stage 1 or ‘an aspect or theme to develop children’s chronological understanding post 1066’ for Key Stage 2 it is important to focus on a clear observable change. This enables children to draw effective comparisons with their own experiences. Washday, bread...

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  • A cultural legacy: the theatre of ancient Greece

    Article

    Sometimes it is not easy to understand how the different units of the Key Stage 2 National Curriculum were selected, but this is not true for the Ancient Greek unit. Since the renaissance period, knowledge of ‘the classics’ has been a central element for an educated man or woman. Ancient...

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  • Ankhu and Nebu of Deir el Medina

    Article

    Perhaps the hardest skill to develop in history is a sense of period. What was it really like to live in Ancient Egypt? Who should we study? Or, in this case, which workers were typical? Were these craftsmen in Deir el Medina typical of all the workers in Egypt? Or...

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  • ‘Miss, did the Romans build pyramids?’

    Article

    Miss, did the Romans build pyramids? No Johnny, I think you are confusing the Romans with the Egyptians. Actually, Miss, the Romans did build pyramids – well, at least one – and you can still see it in Rome today! The pyramid, which is 37 metres [or 125 Roman feet]...

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  • Developing early history skills and understanding through the EYFS

    Article

    Read more like this: EYFS scheme of work EYFS Medium term plan: Toys and Games Early Years Foundation Stage (article) Early Years: learning about the past (article) Using 'Development Matters' in the Foundation Stage (article) For many children, going to nursery school is a key part of their day. It...

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  • The Elizabeth cake

    Article

    Hidden away on top of a dusty, battered cupboard in a local primary school were two equally dusty and battered log books. Each has seen better days and each could provide a range of links to local and national history. The log book was one of two found in one...

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  • Getting to grips with concepts in primary history

    Article

    Perhaps one of the most perplexing aspects of teaching history is the fostering of conceptual understanding. History subject leaders often find this a challenging issue. Even if they have a decent grasp themselves, it can be difficult for others in the school who have to teach the subject. Over recent...

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  • The history of medicine – warts and all – for Key Stage 2

    Article

    The story of the history of medicine is HUGE! In fact, it’s a story within story within a story… You only have to note the substantial amounts that have been written on the subject in the past, to realise that this is a story that could baffle and perplex even...

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  • Resources for courses: ideas for your history curriculum

    Article

    In times of tight budgets and with the new financial year on the horizon in April, now might be a good time to look at different ways to resource your history curriculum effectively. Alongside all the resources for teachers available from Primary History and the HA website, the following list...

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  • Trade and pilgrimage in the Abbasid Caliphate

    Article

    The Abbasid Caliphate stretched from North Africa across to Afghanistan and the North West Frontier. Within the caliphate there were movements of people, goods and ideas. The golden period of this early Islamic caliphate was around 900 AD. As the caliphs were building a major trading empire across the Middle...

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  • To boldly go: exploring the explorers

    Article

    Exploration and a curiosity about the world are key human characteristics that have shaped and continue to shape our behaviour. Nowhere is this more true than with younger children who relish the opportunity to investigate their environment and all it contains. Promoting this natural curiosity and introducing stimulating challenge should...

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  • The potty timeline: an effective way of using timelines

    Article

    Timelines are a constant source of fascination. Rows of events and time periods all jostling for position on an eternal line, cramming together or strung out with wide gaps between them. In our primary classrooms, however, the vastness of timelines can be diminished as we crop them on computers and...

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  • Elizabethan times: Just banquets and fun?

    Article

    Although much of the Key Stage 2 history curriculum relates to the period before 1066, we are expected to include 'a study of an aspect or theme in British history that extends pupils’ chronological knowledge beyond 1066' (DfE, 2013,p.5) This raises two questions:a) How can a post-1066 topic be related...

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  • Why stop at the Tudors?

    Article

    When deciding to teach the topic of Benin to my Year 5 pupils I was somewhat daunted by the fact that I had never taught it before, and I was determined that it be a meaningful experience which benefited their narrative, chronological and historical skills-based understanding of the subject. I was...

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